The United States expressed hope on Thursday, October 4, that Turkey’s border clash with Syria does not escalate further, but stood by its NATO ally’s right to defend itself against aggression spilling over from Syria’s internal armed conflict, Reuters reported. The State Department said Turkey’s decision to mount retaliatory artillery strikes after a Syrian mortar killed five civilians in southeastern Turkey on Wednesday was appropriate and proportional. “We hope that this doesn’t escalate into a broader conflict,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said. Little added that the United States put the blame on Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. 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 further spillover from the Syrian fighting.