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Turkey's warning to Syria over shelling of village

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish leader, says the countries are "not far" from war.

The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has stepped up his rhetoric against Syria, saying that the two countries are "not far" from war.

On Wednesday, five people were killed in a Turkish village by shelling across the border.

Today, Erdogan told a crowd in Istanbul:

"We are not interested in war, but we're not far from it either. This nation has come to where it is today having gone through intercontinental wars."

As the two countries squared up, the Syrian city of Homs came under a severe shell attack, its worst in several months. According to activists, there have also been attacks on Aleppo, Damascus, Hama and Idlin.

Abu Rami, an activist who was in Homs at the time of the shelling, told Associated Press: "Around dawn, the regime went crazy and started shelling hysterically. An average of five rockets a minute are falling."

Homs had been the focus of intense attacks from government forces up until April, when focus had shifted away from the city. However, on Friday there were attacks on several districts in Homs, including the neighbourhood of Khaldiya, Old Homs, Qusour and Jouret el-Shayah.

Rami Abdel Rahmen, of human rights group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP news: "It seems like the regime has a limited window to use its warplanes, because it is throwing everything it can at the rebels in Homs."

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.