Turkey fires into Syria after shelling damages mosque

Published Monday, March 31, 2014

The Turkish military fired back into Syria on Monday in retaliation for mortar shells and a rocket from over the border that hit a mosque in the town of Yayladagi, the provincial governor's office and local media said.

Three mortar rounds landed on Turkish soil, fired during fighting between the Islamist rebels in Syria and government forces for control of the Armenian Christian village of Kessab, Turkey's Dogan News Agency said.

Islamist insurgents launched an offensive about ten days ago into Syria's Latakia region on the Mediterranean coast, taking both the border crossing and Kessab on the Syrian side.

Since then, Syria has sent army forces, backed by air power, to repulse the rebels, leading to heavy fighting across the strip of territory along the Turkish border.

"Our artillery troops have fired back at the region from where the shots originated," the Hatay governor's office said in a statement on its website.

The mortar shells hit a field, the statement said, but the rocket hit a mosque next to a refugee camp, injuring a 50-year-old Syrian woman who was passing by.

Meanwhile Syria announced that its troops had recaptured a key position in Latakia province.

"Syrian army units have full control of Observatory 45 in the north of Latakia province and are continuing to pursue terrorist groups," Syrian state television said, citing the military.

Observatory 45 is a strategic hilltop that overlooks several areas inhabited by Alawi residents who have been targeted by Islamist rebels over their support for the Syrian government.

Sate television reported live from near the hilltop and broadcast pictures of bodies it said were dead fighters, many of them non-Syrians.

(AFP, Reuters Al-Akhbar)

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