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Published: Monday March 31, 2014 MYT 10:05:49 PM
Updated: Monday March 31, 2014 MYT 10:06:51 PM

Turkish military fires into Syria after rocket hits mosque

ANKARA (Reuters) - The Turkish military fired back into Syria on Monday in retaliation for mortar shells and a rocket from over the border that hit a mosque in the town of Yayladagi, the provincial governor's office and local media said.

Three mortar rounds landed on Turkish soil, fired during fighting between the Islamist rebels in Syria and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for control of the Armenian Christian village of Kasab, Turkey's Dogan News Agency said.

Islamist insurgents launched an offensive about ten days ago into Syria's Latakia region on the Mediterranean coast, taking both the border crossing and Kasab on the Syrian side.

Since then, Assad has sent army and militia reinforcements, backed by air power, to repulse the rebels, leading to heavy fighting across the strip of territory along the Turkish border.

"Our artillery troops have fired back at the region from where the shots originated," the Hatay governor's office said in a statement on its website.

The mortar shells hit a field, the statement said, but the rocket hit a mosque next to a refugee camp, injuring a 50-year-old Syrian woman who was passing by.

Turkey has been one of Assad's staunchest opponents and hosts around 900,000 refugees from Syria's civil war. Its 900 km (560-mile) frontier with Syria has seen frequent spillovers of violence from the conflict.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Nick Tattersall/Mark Heinrich)

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