ISTANBUL – Eight rockets fired from a jihadi-controlled area of Syria slammed into a Turkish border town on Tuesday, killing two people, including a 4-year-old child, officials said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed two Turkish citizens in the town of Kilis had been killed by fire coming from an area in Syria controlled by Islamic State and that the Turkish army had returned fire.
“Any attack against Turkey will be responded to in the most severe manner and we have already given instructions to our armed forces in this regard,” Davutoglu said at a news conference alongside Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
“We had already made our preparations.”
Some of the Katyusha-type rockets hit empty areas in Kilis, but at least one caused casualties, Turkish media quoted the mayor, Hasan Kara, as saying.
A woman aged 54 was killed in the strike, while shrapnel hit a passing car in which two children aged 6 and4 were traveling, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.
The 4-year-old boy died of his wounds on the way to hospital, it added. The 6-year-old was also wounded.
It is the first such incident since Jan. 18, when a rocket fired from an Islamic State-controlled position in Syria killed a janitor and wounded a pupil at a school in Kilis.
Television footage showed anxious residents inspecting a crater made by one of the rockets as another missile slammed into the ground nearby.
Mayor Kara urged residents not to panic, CNN-Turk said.
Turkey has on occasion been accused by its western allies of not doing enough to combat the threat of Islamic State, which has captured swathes of Iraq and Syria right up to its border.
But Ankara is now playing a key role in the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition and hosting foreign warplanes at its Incirlik airbase for strikes on the group.
The latest attack comes after Turkish armed forces launched repeated artillery strikes in the last two weeks on Islamic State positions in Syria.
A fragile cease-fire backed by Turkey has taken effect in Syria, but the deal does not apply to territory held by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida affiliate Nusra Front.
“The (firing) underlines once again how fragile the cease-fire is,” said Davutoglu, emphasizing that Islamic State was not a party to the truce.
From mid-February, Turkish artillery had also shelled targets of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) inside Syria, with the military saying it was responding to incoming fire.
But Turkey has not shelled any positions held by Syrian Kurdish fighters inside Syria since the cease-fire was implemented on Feb. 27.
Washington had urged Ankara to halt its fire on the PYD and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.