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UN calls for calm as Syria shells Turkey

  • The United Nations has called for calm in Turkey and Syria as tensions escalate in the wake of cross-border shelling.

    A mortar strike on the Turkish town of Akcakele killed five civilians and wounded at least 10 others on Wednesday.

    It was the first time that Turkish citizens had been killed as a result of fire from Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al Assad's regime began in March 2011.

    Turkey retaliated with artillery strikes on Thursday as its parliament voted to authorize military operations inside Syria.

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged both countries to exercise "maximum restraint".

    His spokesman Martin Nesirky said: "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.

    "As the situation inside Syria deteriorates yet further ... the risks of regional conflict and the threat to international peace and security are also increasing."

    Wednesday's shelling marked the most serious incident between the neighboring nations since June, when Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet that had strayed into its airspace, killing its two crewmen.