Syrian jets bomb rebel bases near Turkey border

Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:31pm EST
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By Mahdi Mohammed

BUKULMEZ, Turkey (Reuters) - Syrian warplanes bombed two rebel bases near the Turkish border on Monday sending hundreds of people fleeing across the frontier.

The attacks on the Free Syrian Army positions (FSA) in Atima and nearby Bab al-Hawa came a day before NATO and Ankara were due to start assessing where to station surface-to-air missiles on the Turkish side of the 900-km (560-mile) boundary.

Turkey, a big supporter of rebels fighting to oust Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, has repeatedly scrambled jets along the border. It has also responded in kind when shells from the conflict have landed inside Turkey, underlining fears Syria's 20-month-old revolt could spread to destabilize the region.

Ankara has rejected Syrian complaints that the NATO Patriots were "provocative" and stressed they would be used only to defend Turkish territory, not to create a no-fly zone inside Syria that rebels have long demanded as a way to neutralize Assad's massive air power.

Syrian planes dropped around six bombs on a rebel base near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, said activists.

"There were lots of people injured ... I saw many wounded people on the border before I was brought here," FSA member Mahmoud Ahmad told Reuters after arriving in Turkey for treatment.

The attack also flattened tents being set up nearby for displaced people inside Syria by a Turkish charity, but no one was inside them at the time, Turkey's state-run Anadolu agency reported. Reuters television footage showed tattered shelters and a bomb crater near a line of tanks.

Two Syrian jets fired five rockets at an FSA base in Atima, around 2km (1 mile) from the border, said opposition activist Ahmed, who lives nearby. "Three have hit farm areas and another two hit buildings near the base."   Continued...

A member of the Free Syrian Army waits as gunfire is heard between them and the armed Kurds of The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, November 25, 2012. Iran said Turkey's plans to deploy Patriot defensive missiles near its border with Syria would add to the region's problems, as fears grow of the Syrian civil war spilling across frontiers. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh