Syria bombards rebel area near Turkish border

Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:56am EST
 

By Jonathon Burch

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bombarded the Ras al-Ain area on the border with Turkey on Sunday, days after the town fell to rebels during an advance that has sent thousands of refugees fleeing for safety.

Helicopters circled above the town and opposition activists said they had strafed targets near the village of Tal Halaf.

The Arab and Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain fell to the Free Syrian Army on Thursday in fighting that sent 9,000 fleeing in a 24-hour period, one of a largest refugee influxes into Turkey of the 19-month civil war.

Tank rounds slammed into the western part of the town on Sunday and a Reuters reporter on the Turkish side of the border saw black smoke rising over the area.

Rebels and forces loyal to Assad exchanged artillery fire and some rounds appeared to land just inside Turkey.

"It's a disaster over there," a man shouted to reporters as he crossed into the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar. Ambulances with sirens wailing ferried wounded people from the Turkish side of the border for treatment at a local clinic.

With winter setting in, over 120,000 Syrians are now sheltering in Turkish camps, deepening alarm in Ankara.

Turkey has already beefed up security on its southeastern border with Syria, in an area of the country where it is also fighting an emboldened insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).   Continued...

 
A Free Syrian Army fighter on a truck is seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar as he patrols in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain November 11, 2012. REUTERS/Murad Sezer