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Turkey continues to respond in 'worst-case scenario'

Tensions continue to be high along Syria’s border with Turkey, with the Turkish military again responding to cross-border shelling. Meanwhile, dozens more people were reported killed in the fighting inside Syria.

Turkish officials said the country's military responded with retaliatory strikes on Syrian military targets after a shell landed in the border province of Hatay on Monday afternoon. Earlier, the AFP news agency quoted the provincial governor who said a total of six shells had landed in rural areas. No injuries were reported.

Turkeyhas been responding to Syrian shells hitting its territory since last Wednesday, when five civilians were killed in one such incident in the border town of Akcakale.

Speaking to reporters in the capital, Ankara, Turkish President Abdullah Gul pledged that his government would do what it takes to secure its borders.

"Our government is in constant consultation with the Turkish military. Whatever needed is being done immediately as you see, and it will continue to be done from now on too," Gul said, describing the situation as a “worst-case scenario.”

Concerns about a possible widening of the conflict

Since last Wednesday's deadly incident, there have been growing concerns that Syria's internal conflict could spread beyond its borders. In a speech to a conference in France on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described as "extremely dangerous" the situation along the Syrian-Turkish border.

"I am deeply concerned by the continued flow of arms to both the Syrian government and opposition forces. I urge again those countries providing arms to stop doing so," he told delegates at the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg.

Both sides in the Syrian conflict have accused border nations of providing material support to their enemies.

Meanwhile, the fighting raged on inside Syria on Monday. Syrian rebels claimed to have made gains in the north of the country, towards the country's border with Turkey. The DPA news agency quoted a rebel commander who claimed his fighters had captured two checkpoints from government troops in Aleppo province. Government forces, meanwhile, are reported to have attacked opposition strongholds in central and southern regions of the country.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 60 people had been killed in the fighting on Monday.

pfd/dr (Reuters, dpa, AFP)