The Turkish parliament has authorized cross-border military action into Syria, if deemed necessary by the government.
The mandate, valid for one year, was passed by 320 votes in the 550-seat Turkish parliament, the Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday.
Besir Atalay, Turkey's deputy prime minister, said that the authorization of the use of force in Syria was not a declaration of war but was intended as a deterrent.
The vote came as Turkey resumed shelling Syrian government military positions on Thursday morning, in retaliation for a mortar attack which struck southeastern Turkey, killing five Turkish citizens – a woman and four children from the same family.
"The Syrian side has admitted what it did and apologized," Atalay said.
"Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary"
Turkish state media said that the attacks by artillery units based in the border town of Akcakale were continuing.
Several Syrian soldiers were killed in overnight Turkish shelling of a base near the Syrian border town of Tal al-Abyad, a British-based Syrian activist group said.
According to Al Jazeera, an aide to Turkey's prime minister, said on Thursday that his country had no intention of declaring war on Syria. "Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary," Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on his Twitter account.
"Political, diplomatic initiatives will continue," he said.