2,400 Syrians cross into Turkey overnight

Some 2,400 people, including two generals, fled the violence in Syria to reach neighboring Turkey overnight on Wednesday. The group was mostly made up of women and children from areas near the Syrian towns of Aleppo and Idlib, but also included a total of 37 defecting military personnel. (Photo: AA)

August 08, 2012, Wednesday/ 10:51:00

Some 2,400 people crossed into Turkey overnight to escape the escalating violence in Syria, Turkey's state-run news agency reported Wednesday, as rebels tried to expand control inside Syria's largest city and the humanitarian crisis appeared to be growing.

The group of mostly women and children crossing overnight also included two generals and two colonels defecting from Syria's army, the Anatolia news agency said.

The agency said nine of the refugees - including women and children - were injured in violence in villages near Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial center, and Idlip, both close to the Turkish border.

There has been a marked increase in the number of refugees fleeing to Turkey in the past two days as Aleppo-based activists reported clashes near the historic city center.

Intense government bombardment of the Syrian town of Tal Rafaat closer to the border also sent scores of people spilling into Turkey for safety, the activists said.

Officials had reported 1,328 arrivals on Tuesday, nearly double the number of the previous day.

Some 50,000 Syrians have now found refuge in Turkey, which has served as a staging ground for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's regime. Even more refugees have crossed into Jordan and Lebanon.

"Unfortunately, there is a human tragedy going on in Syria," Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said Wednesday, keeping up Turkey's criticism of the violence that has claimed at least 19,000 lives.

Assad on Tuesday made his first appearance on state TV in nearly three weeks, in a show of solidarity with senior Iranian envoy Saeed Jalili. Speaking on state TV, the two vowed to defeat the rebels and their backers.

The visit to Damascus by the highest-ranking Iranian official since the uprising began coincided with a warning by an increasingly agitated Tehran that it holds the U.S. responsible for the fate of the seized Iranian.

The Syrian rebels have grown more confident and are using increasingly bolder tactics. They seized the Iranians in a bold daylight attack near Damascus on Saturday, claiming they were sent on a "reconnaissance mission" to assist in Assad's crackdown. 

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