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Turkey protects itself against Syria

Turkey has deployed its military to protect its 900km border with Syria.

Smoke rises from the explosions of several Syrian shells that crashed inside Akcakale town in Sanliurfa, Turkey, killing at least five people on 3 October 2012. AFP/Rauf

GUVECCI - Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Monday the "worst-case scenarios" were now playing out in Syria, and Turkey would do everything necessary to protect itself as its army fired back for a sixth day after a shell from Syria flew over the border.

Gul said the violence in Turkey's southern neighbour, where a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad has evolved into a civil war that threatens to draw in regional powers, could not go on indefinitely and Assad's fall was inevitable.

Turkey's armed forces have bolstered their presence along the 900 km border with Syria in recent days and have been responding in kind to gunfire and shelling spilling across from the south, where Assad's forces have been battling rebels who control swathes of territory.

Turkey's Chief of Staff, General Necdet Ozel, travelled to the southern city of Adana to inspect the region patrolled by Turkey's 2nd Army, which protects the border with Syria, the military said on its website.

The exchanges with Turkey mark the most serious cross-border violence in Syria's revolt against Assad, which began in March last year with peaceful protests for reform and has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones.

Parliament last week authorised the deployment of Turkish troops beyond its borders although government officials said the move was meant as a deterrent rather than a "war mandate".

Turkey's Dogan news agency said some 25 warplanes had been sent to a military base in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the southeast, and reported military sources as saying this was in connection with Syria and cross-border anti-terror operations.

It said a large number of F-16 fighter planes landed at the base on Monday afternoon.

Separately, a convoy of military vehicles, including tanks loaded on trucks, travelled to the town of Akcakale on Monday to be deployed on the border, Dogan reported.

Damascus has said it fired into Turkey accidentally, but has failed to live up to pledges made last week, after a Syrian shell killed five civilians in Akcakale, to ensure no more ordnance flies across the border.