April 13, 2016 / 6:42 AM / 2 years ago

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

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

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attends news conference in Helsinki, Finland in this April 6, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva

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.

Defense 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 had risen to two after another person died in hospital overnight.

The military has now hit 146 Islamic State targets across the border from Kilis since January 9, Yilmaz said at a news conference in Kilis.

“Based on our information, we think they have suffered 362 casualties and 123 injuries,” he said.

Turkey is facing several security threats. As part of a U.S.-led coalition, it is fighting Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq. It is also battling Kurdish militants in its southeast, 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 Kilis.

Additional reporting by Seda Sezer; Writing by David Dolan and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Ralph Boulton

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