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Turkey exchanges fire with Syria for fourth day

Ankara has targeted Syria again after a bomb of Syrian origin landed on Turkish soil. Meanwhile, the rebel-held Syrian city of Homs has suffered intense bombing by government warplanes.

The Turkish army fired on Syria for the fourth day running on Saturday, a state-run news agency reported.

Turkey's move was in retaliation to a mortar bomb fired from Syria, which landed in countryside near the town of Guvecci in Hatay province. Turkish units returned fire immediately, according to the Anatolian news agency.

Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syrian President Bashar Assad and his supporters of severe consequences if the shells continued to fall from the Syrian side. "I am calling once more on the Assad regime and its supporters: Don't dare to test Turkey's patience," he told a crowd in Istanbul.

Ankara launched artillery attacks on Syria on Wednesday and Thursday after cross-border shelling from Syria left five Turkish citizens dead.

Turkey's parliament on Thursday backed government-initiated legislation allowing the country's army to carry out cross-border operations against Syria for up to a year, if deemed necessary.

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Tension mounts in Turkey-Syria standoff

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday also agreed on a resolution condemning the attack on the Turkish town on Akcakale, which killed five civilians, all women and children, on Wednesday.

Diplomats taking part in the negotiations said an accord was reached between a draft text supported by Western powers and parts of a proposal tabled by Russia, which has previously vetoed strict council measures on Syria.

Homs under attack

This comes as Syrian warplanes bombed the rebel-held city of Homs on Friday, in the most intense bombardment that the city has witnessed for five months, according to monitors.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said tanks, mortars and aircraft had battered Khaldiya, a neighborhood in the city. It was not clear whether there had been any casualties.

The Syrian army also assaulted rebel seats in Aleppo, Daraa, Deir Ezzor, Idlib and Latakia, the Observatory reported.

Rebel fighters responded by shooting down a regime helicopter gunship in Damascus province and taking control of an army checkpoint outside Deir Ezzor, located in eastern Syria, killing at least a dozen troops, said the watchdog.

Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians came out to demonstrate across the country, calling for the opposing Free Syrian Army to be armed, and fiercely criticizing the international community for their lack of action.

More than 30,000 have died in the Syrian uprising since it began in March 2011, according to activists.

slk,sej/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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