Turkey’s army bombarded targets across the border in Syria on Jan. 18, hours after rocket fire hit a school garden in the southeastern province of Kilis, killing one woman and wounding a student.
Turkish army radar showed shots were fired into the border province of Kilis from Islamic State (IS) outposts inside Syria. The locations of Katyusha multiple rocket launchers which fired three rockets were detected by the Turkish army.
The military responded with artillery fire for around an hour in kind, with the artillery reportedly destroying the Katyusha target.
Turkish fire came hours after a rocket projectile from Syria hit a schoolyard in Kilis.
“A woman from the school’s cleaning staff lost her life in the explosion while a seventh-grade student at the neighboring school was hospitalized at Kilis State Hospital,” the statement said. The wounded student, identified as G.C., was taken into surgery.
Ayşegül Polat, 32, who worked as cleaner at the Eyüp Gökçe İmam Secondary School, was killed in the rocket fire. The blast occurred at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 18 near the Nazlı Ömer Çetin primary school in the center of Kilis, where four schools are located.
The Kilis Governor’s Office said one of three rocket projectiles fired from across the nearby Syrian border fell in the school’s courtyard. Two other rocket projectiles hit empty spaces and inflicted no harm on life or property, the governor’s office added.
Military sources indicate that the rocket projectors were fired from IS positions in Syria.
Other schools in the province were evacuated upon the order of the provincial governor. Kilis Mayor Hasan Kara urged Kilis’ residents to remain calm. “Our people should remain calm. They shouldn’t permit any provocation,” he said.
The area where the schools are situated is reportedly eight kilometers from Turkey’s border with Syria, where an intensification of clashes has been reported over the past three days. The Syrian town of Azez, across the border from where the school hit by the fire is located, is controlled by Free Syrian Army fighters. However, the area around 10 kilometers east of Azez is controlled by IS militants and the west of the town is controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Kilis is on the edge of a roughly 100-km strip of Syrian border territory controlled by IS. Turkish towns in the region have frequently seen artillery fire spill over during Syria’s civil war, which is about to enter its sixth year. Turkey’s Armed Forces have responded in kind.
NATO member Turkey, part of the U.S.-led coalition against IS jihadists, has become a target for the group in recent months. A suicide bombing last week in Istanbul, blamed on the group, killed 10 German tourists. Bombings committed by the group in Ankara and the border town of Suruç last year killed more than 135 people.
Turkish tanks and artillery bombarded IS positions in Syria and Iraq in the days after last week’s bombing in Istanbul, killing almost 200 IS militants, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said.