Syrian jets attack FSA base near Turkey border
Smoke rises after a Syrian air force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Marat al-Numan, near the northern province of Idlib. (Photo: Reuters/Ahmed Noor)
Syrian warplanes attacked the headquarters of opposition forces near the Turkish border on Monday but appeared to miss their target, opposition activists in the region have said.
"The [Free Syrian Army (FSA)] joint command is located in a school. It seems they have missed it. There were two jets -- one of them looked like a reconnaissance aircraft. They had been flying over the area for an hour," activist Mohammad Abdallah said.
They said a Turkish fighter was scrambled to the area. There was no immediate comment from Turkish authorities about the incident, which occurred in Atima village in hilly farmland across the border from Turkey's Hatay province. FSA forces fired anti-aircraft guns at the jets, but they were flying too high to be hit, they said.
Turkey has requested that NATO surface-to-air missiles be stationed on its side of the border, angering Syria, but said on Monday they would only be used to protect Turkish territory and not to establish a no-fly zone.
Syrian jets have previously bombed FSA targets along the frontier, but Monday's strike was one of the closest to the border, just two kilometers from a Turkish gendarmerie compound and near a crossing point for Syrian refugees.
Another activist described how the planes were circling the area when they struck. The sound of what appeared to be rockets and explosions could be heard over the phone. "They fired three rockets. It looks like that they hit nearby buildings. There are no reported casualties. It seems that the FSA was expecting the air strike and had evacuated the area," he said.
Atima is the home village of Brig. Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, a senior officer in the FSA who moved operations there after staying at a camp on the Turkish side for months.