765 more Syrians flee to Turkey escaping violence

March 14, 2012, Wednesday/ 20:14:00/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM

At least 765 Syrian refugees, mostly women and children, have crossed into Turkey since Tuesday night to escape increasing violence in Idlib, which the Syria military recaptured from opposition fighters earlier this week.

The state-run Anatolia news agency reported that 747 Syrian refugees crossed into Turkey through Kavalcık, Kuşaklı and Bükülmez, all villages in Hatay’s Reyhanlı district on the border with Syria. After being processed, all the Syrian refugees were transferred to a refugee camp in Hatay.

With the arrival of the latest groups, more than 1,300 refugees have crossed into Turkey this week alone. Authorities have started setting up additional tents for new arrivals. In addition, 18 Syrians were reported to have entered Turkey through the village of Topraktutan in Hatay’s Yayladağı district.

After the Syrian military recaptured the northern opposition stronghold of Idlib near the Turkish border, a major base that military defectors had held for months, refugees poured into the country. Anatolia reported that more than 500 Syrians arrived in Kavalcık on Tuesday alone; they were sent to a refugee camp set up in Reyhanlı.

Idlib, a predominantly Sunni city of some 150,000 people located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Homs, was among the first to fall in the hands of military defectors last summer. Opposition fighters had held control of large parts of the city for the past few months with government troops present only in some areas.

The UN Refugee Agency said 230,000 Syrians have fled their homes since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime began last year. The UN says more than 8,000 people have been killed in the past 12 months.

Panos Moumtzis, the UNHCR's coordinator for Syria, said 30,000 people have already fled to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, adding that “on a daily basis hundreds of people are still crossing into neighboring countries.” Turkey currently hosts nearly 14,000 Syrian refugees in its Hatay district.

Turkish authorities are now establishing tent and container cities in Turkey's southern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa to deal with the influx. Currently, there are seven tent cities in Hatay's Yayladağı, Reyhanlı and Altınözü districts.

In the refugee camp in Reyhanlı, additional space is being prepared to accommodate 100 more tents. Although the capacity of the camp in Hatay is 25,000, more tents are needed as Syrian soldiers who have deserted are being sent to a a separate camp in Apaydın. Hatay authorities added that neighboring provinces will also begin taking in refugees from Syria.

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