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Is Turkey at war with Syria?

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The NATO military alliance, of which Turkey is a member, met at an emergency session in Brussels and condemned the attack on Turkey. NATO demanded "the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally" and urged the Syrian regime to "put an end to flagrant violations of international law."

The Turkish response to the shelling was prompt — it fired salvos of artillery rounds deep inside Syria.

Mustafa Guclu, a witness in Akcakale, said the Turkish military fired five rounds of artillery "after midnight" toward Syria and another round around 5 a.m. on Thursday.

"I have not heard any more shelling since then," he told the Associated Press.

The Syrian mortar shell damaged the door and walls of a house in Akcakale, while shrapnel poked holes and shattered windows of neighboring houses and shops.

Some residents of Akcakale abandoned their homes close to the border and spent the night on the streets. Others gathered outside the mayor's office, afraid to return to their homes as the dull thud of distant artillery fire rumbled.

Turks have grown weary of the burden of involvement in the Syrian conflict, which includes the hosting of 90,000 Syrian refugees in camps along the border.

Yet Turkey is still loath to go it alone in Syria, and is anxious for any intervention to have the legitimacy conferred by a U.N. resolution or the involvement of a broad group of allies. Turkey is mindful in part of inconclusive ground missions, mostly in the 1990s, against Kurdish guerrillas based in northern Iraq, as well as the bitter lessons of being seen as an occupying power that are associated with the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq.

Reaching deeper into history, Turkey is aware of Mideast sensibilities over Ottoman rule over much of the region.

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