Eighteen Turkish soldiers were injured after a group of smugglers -- who were attempting to illegally import diesel from war-torn Syria into Turkey through a village in the border district of Reyhanlı -- set diesel drums on fire to prevent being captured by Turkish security officials in the early hours on Tuesday.
A group of soldiers patrolling the village of Beşaslan on the Syrian border saw a group of 2,500-3,000 smugglers crossing into the Turkish side of the border carrying diesel drums, a statement released by the Turkish military said.
The statement said security forces warned the smugglers both in Turkish and Arabic not to cross the border but both the smugglers and villagers began to throw stones at the soldiers.
Upon this, Turkish soldiers began to fire tear gas to disperse the crown in front of the village and near the border to prevent smugglers from crossing the border.
With clashes escalated, additional reinforcements of 300 soldiers were transferred to the area to tackle the situation, the statement said.
When the Turkish soldiers began to enter the village the smugglers and their accomplices in the village set the drums on fire to avoid capture by Turkish security units and ran to the Syrian side of the border.
The Turkish military said a number of villagers opened fire with firearms and rifles from the windows of some houses. Eighteen soldiers were injured in the clash and fire and were taken to the Reyhanlı State Hospital.
Three of the injured were transferred to the Hatay State Hospital in critical condition.