Tension rises over Syria’s border attack

Today’s Zaman was able to visit a Free Syrian Army (FSA) camp, where FSA members are struggling against President Assad’s troops with few weapons, limited food and poor living conditions. (PHOTOSUNDAY’S ZAMAN, ONUR ÇOBAN)

April 15, 2012, Sunday/ 14:06:00

Syrian forces fired across the Turkish border into a refugee camp in Turkey on Monday, killing four Syrians and wounding many others.

The soldiers were apparently firing at opposition fighters who were trying to escape to the refugee camp after ambushing a military checkpoint, according to the Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. According to activists, the fighting along the Turkish border began before dawn on Monday when opposition fighters attacked Syrian soldiers manning a checkpoint near the Turkish border, killing six soldiers.

The report stated that the troops kept firing as they pursued eight wounded opposition fighters who escaped to the camp just across the border in Turkey, sending bullets whizzing across the frontier. Fleeing a year-long crackdown on anyone who opposes the government, the refugees had hoped to find sanctuary just inside the Turkish border. But instead, on the eve of a UN-backed cease-fire, they say the bloodshed they were seeking to escape came to their doorstep, spreading fear and the occasional stray bullet among thousands of men, women and children.

Syria promised to observe a UN-backed cease-fire starting on Thursday, but its forces kept up fierce attacks on opposition neighborhoods in the hours before the deadline. There are nearly 25,000 Syrian refugees registered in three provinces.

On Wednesday, in a statement that may be interpreted as the harshest response yet to the escalating 13-month-old Syrian crisis, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the first time on Wednesday raised the possibility of calling on the NATO military alliance to protect Turkey’s border against incursions by Syrian forces. “NATO has a responsibility to protect Turkish borders,” said Erdoğan.

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