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UN works out Syria response, Turkey approves action

As the UN mulls a response to the Turkey-Syria border crisis, Secretary General Ban ki-Moon urged calm. Turkey earlier voted to allow the troop deployments across the border, if necessary.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called on Turkey and Syria to show "maximum restraint" amid tensions over the cross-border shelling incidents.

The secretary general calls on all concerned to abandon the use of violence, exercise maximum restraint and exert all efforts to move toward a political solution," Ban said in a statement through his spokesman.

Turkey hit back at Syria on Wednesday evening, hours after a mortar bomb fired from across the border landed in Turkish town of Akcakale, killing at least five people.

Turkish forces were reported to have struck military targets within Syria using artillery. The country's parliament on Thursday voted to make possible the deployment of troops beyond its borders if necessary.

The Anadolu Agency said the bill gives the government the legal authority to attack Syrian targets with troops and warplanes for up to one year.

‘No green light for war’

However, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said that the decision did not put the country on a war footing. "This decision is not for war... It has deterrent qualities," he said.

Atalay said that Syria had, via the UN, apologized for the incident and assured Ankara that “such an incident will, from now on, not happen anymore." Atalay said the apology had been accepted.

However, it remained unclear as to whether this would mean an end to Turkish attacks on Syrian positions near to its border. Several soldiers were reported to have been killed on the Syrian side on Thursday.

"Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary," Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, said on his Twitter account.

Plea for ‘necessary action’

Turkey had earlier urged the UN Security Council to take the "necessary action" to stop Syrian aggression and ensure Turkish territorial integrity is respected.

A draft statement circulating at the UN Security Council was believed to take note of a threat to peace and security in the region and to echo Ban’s call for restraint.

Syria's staunch ally Russia, which called for a passage blaming Syria for the tensions to be omitted, said it had received assurances from Syria that the initial mortar strike had been a "tragic" accident.

rc/dr (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)