— Turkey’s parliament has authorized the military to enter Syria to attack targets of the regime of President Bashar Assad.

On Oct. 4, parliament, dominated by the ruling Justice and Development Party, passed a resolution to allow for Turkish military operations in Syria.

The authorization came in wake of the first Turkish Army shelling of targets of the Assad regime on Oct. 3-4. “The ongoing crisis in Syria affects the stability and security in the region and now the escalating animosity affects our national security,” the parliamentary motion said.

The motion was approved by a vote of 320-129 amid Turkish Army artillery attacks in Syria. Officials said Turkish artillery batteries repeatedly struck Syrian Army targets over the last two days. By late Oct. 4, Turkey was said to have halted artillery fire. “This mandate is not a war mandate,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said.

Speaking on Turkish television, Atalay said the parliamentary authorization was meant to deter the Assad regime from attacks on the Syrian border with Turkey. The minister said Ankara did not intend to widen the conflict with Damascus, which until 2011 was regarded as a strategic ally of Turkey.

Officials said the Turkish strikes were meant to retaliate against repeated Syrian Army mortar shellings, the last of which killed five people in a Turkish border town on Oct. 4. They said the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan would maintain a dialogue with the Assad regime to
stop border violence.

“Turkey does not want war with Syria,” Ibrahim Kalin, senior aide to Erdogan, said. “But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary. Political, diplomatic initiatives will continue.”