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Turkey shells targets in Syria after rockets hit border town – PM

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu chats with Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar during a welcoming ceremony for Saudi King Salman in Ankara, Turkey

Turkey’s military struck Islamic State targets in northern Syria in response to rockets that hit the south-eastern Turkish border town of Kilis for the third straight day on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

More than 20 people have been wounded this week alone as multiple rockets struck Kilis, home to an estimated 110,000 Syrian refugees, which has been frequently hit by shells from across the border, a region controlled by Islamic State.

Four rockets struck Kilis on Wednesday but they landed in an empty field and there were no casualties, mayor Hasan Kara told Reuters.

Davutoglu said measures would be taken to ensure the safety of citizens. “Daesh targets have been struck within the rules of engagement,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Sunni hardline group.

“We are conducting a decisive battle to protect our citizens from this circle of fire,” he said.

Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz, Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar and the head of the national intelligence agency Hakan Fidan were visiting Kilis to inspect the area and discuss border security, Davutoglu said.

“We go to sleep to the sounds of rockets and we wake up to the sound of rockets,” Kara told Reuters by telephone, adding that the death tally from Tuesday’s rocket attack rose to two after another person died in hospital overnight.

Turkey is facing multiple security threats. As part of a US-led coalition, it is fighting Islamic State in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. It is also battling Kurdish militants in its south-east, where a 2-1/2-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.

The Turkish armed forces often respond to such attacks by firing at targets in Syria. In March, two people, including a young child, were killed by rocket fire into the city.

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