Suspected ISIS militants in Syria fired across border at Turkish troops, military says
Fighting left 1 Turkish soldier and 1 militant dead
Turkey responds by shelling militant positions near Syrian border city
A cross-border gunfight erupted Thursday between suspected ISIS militants in Syria and troops in Turkey, leaving at least one Turkish soldier dead and prompting Turkey to fire artillery at other positions inside its southern neighbor, officials said.
Thursday’s incident began when at least five fighters in northern Syria approached the border and fired on Turkish soldiers, Turkey’s military said.
The militants in Syria were in an area controlled by ISIS, the Islamist terror group that has captured parts of Syria and Iraq, a Turkish official told CNN on condition of anonymity.
The fighting left one Turkish soldier and one attacker dead, with two other Turkish soldiers hurt, the Turkish military said.
Turkish forces also responded by using artillery to fire at suspected ISIS positions near Azaz, Syria, not far from the border, according to Turkey’s semiofficial Anadolu news agency.
The violence comes three days after one of the deadliest terror attacks to happen in Turkey in years – a suicide bombing that killed at least 31 people in Suruc, another Turkish town that borders Syria.
Monday’s blast struck a gathering of mostly Kurdish activists calling for more help to rebuild Kobani, the Syrian city that was the scene of intense fighting last fall between ISIS and predominantly Kurdish forces.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters Tuesday that early indications pointed to involvement by ISIS in the Suruc bombing, though an investigation hadn’t been completed.
Davutoglu said the government would not hesitate in taking action in response to the bombing, which he suggested was in revenge for the role Turkey is playing in a global war on terror.
Another Turkish police officer killed
Elsewhere in Turkey, a police officer was killed in mysterious circumstances on Thursday, a day after two others were killed apparently over ethnic tensions spurred by Monday’s bombing.
In Thursday’s incident, masked attackers shot two police officers who were investigating a road accident in the southeastern Turkey city of Diyarbakir, Anadolu reported. One of the officers died, and the other was receiving treatment, the news agency said.
No claim of responsibility was immediately made, and authorities said they were investigating the shooting.
This came one day after two police officers were killed in their homes in a town in Sanliurfa province along the Turkey-Syria border.
A group known as the HPG, the armed wing of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s killings. The group said it was retaliation against the Turkish authorities for failing to prevent Monday’s suicide bombing in Suruc.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday that the investigation into officers’ executions was ongoing.
“Whether or not this group is really related to the PKK or if this was done on an individual level, or if the (statement) was a propaganda attempt, is being investigated by our intelligence and our security forces,” he said. “But no matter how we look at it, it is a crime committed by an act of terror perpetrated by a terrorist group.”
Turkey officially classifies ISIS and the PKK as terrorist organizations.
CNN’s Gul Tuysuz reported from Istanbul, and CNN’s Jason Hanna wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark and Arwa Damon contributed to this report.