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U.S. sees Turkish response to Syria as appropriate, proportionate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Thursday it considered Turkey's response to Syrian mortar fire this week to be appropriate, proportionate and designed to deter any future violations of its sovereignty by Syria.

Turkey stepped up retaliatory artillery strikes on a Syrian border town on Thursday, killing several Syrian soldiers, while its parliament approved further military action in the event of another spillover of the Syrian conflict.

Syria apologized through the United Nations on Thursday for the mortar fire, which killed five civilians in southeastern Turkey on Wednesday. It said it would not happen again, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland appeared to be trying to help cool tensions.

"Our understanding is that the Turks have responded. The Turkish Parliament has also given the government the capacity to respond again if there are future such violations of Turkish sovereignty," Nuland told reporters at her daily briefing.

"From our perspective, the response that Turkey made was appropriate, it also was designed to strengthen the deterrent effect so that these kinds of things don't happen again, and it was proportional," she said.

A peaceful pro-democracy movement which surfaced in Syria in March 2011 turned into a full-scale armed revolt after President Bashar al-Assad tried to crush it. It has now become a sectarian conflict that analysts say could destabilize neighboring states. (Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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