Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country is not far from war with Syria amid intensified tensions fueled by fresh cross-border attacks.
“We are not interested in war, but we’re not far from it either,” Erdogan told a crowd in Istanbul on Friday.
“Those who attempt to test Turkey’s deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity; I say here they are making a fatal mistake,” he warned.
The remarks came as the Turkish military continued pounding targets inside Syria for the third day, claiming the attack was in response to a mortar bomb that crashed into a village of Yayladagi town in the southern province of Hatay.
Ankara launched its military strikes on Syrian targets on Wednesday after mortar shells from the Syrian side of the border killed five civilians in Akcakale of Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa Province.
On Thursday, the Turkish parliament authorized cross-border military action against Syria “when deemed right.”
Tensions have been running high between Syria and Turkey, with Damascus blaming Turkey — along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar — for backing a deadly insurgency that has claimed the lives of many Syrians, including security and army personnel.
In an interview with the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily in July, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Ankara “has supplied all logistic support to the terrorists who have killed our people.”