Syria bombards rebel area near Turkish border

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:49pm EST

1 of 3. A Free Syrian Army fighter on a truck is seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar as he patrols in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain November 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer

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CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bombarded the Ras al-Ain area on the border with Turkey on Sunday, days after the town fell to rebels during an advance that has sent thousands of refugees fleeing for safety.

Helicopters circled above the town and opposition activists said they had strafed targets near the village of Tal Halaf.

The Arab and Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain fell to the Free Syrian Army on Thursday in fighting that sent 9,000 fleeing in a 24-hour period, one of a largest refugee influxes into Turkey of the 19-month civil war.

Tank rounds slammed into the western part of the town on Sunday and a Reuters reporter on the Turkish side of the border saw black smoke rising over the area.

Rebels and forces loyal to Assad exchanged artillery fire and some rounds appeared to land just inside Turkey.

"It's a disaster over there," a man shouted to reporters as he crossed into the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar. Ambulances with sirens wailing ferried wounded people from the Turkish side of the border for treatment at a local clinic.

With winter setting in, over 120,000 Syrians are now sheltering in Turkish camps, deepening alarm in Ankara.

Turkey has already beefed up security on its southeastern border with Syria, in an area of the country where it is also fighting an emboldened insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Increasingly critical of the failure of world powers to halt the war, Turkey is in discussions with NATO allies over the possible deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to defend against any spillover of violence.

The move could also be a step towards enforcing a no-fly zone within Syria to limit the reach of Assad's air power.

Helicopters were in action on Sunday, opposition activists said, bombing a grain storage area near the village of Tal Halaf outside Ras al-Ain.

"NO BREAD, NO FOOD"

Ras al-Ain is part of Syria's northeastern oil-producing province of Hasaka, home to a large part of Syria's Kurdish minority and 600 km (375 miles) from the Syrian capital, Damascus.

"The fighting hasn't stopped. We waited for it to stop, that's why we didn't cross, but we decided to come today because we are all starving," said 35-year-old Reshad, a Kurd who had just crossed into Turkey with his family.

"Everyone is starving over there, there's no bread, no food." Other refugees ventured back to their homes in Syria, reluctant to stay in camps or homes on the Turkish side of the border.

Most of the inhabitants of Ras al-Ain, an agricultural town that has been Arabised under the nationalist rule of President Bashar al-Assad's Baath Party from its Kurdish name of Seri Kaneh, fled to Turkey when rebels captured the area in a push to seize control of frontier regions from Assad's forces.

A statement by Birth of Freedom, a Syrian Kurdish activists' organization, said clashes were under way between rebels and Assad's forces in the area of Asfar Najjar.

The group said the rebels had committed a "big strategic mistake" by entering Seri Kaneh, where thousands of refugees from other parts of Syria had taken refuge.

Syria's Kurds fear that the mostly Arab rebels will ignore their aspiration to secure some form of autonomy in any post-Assad era.

Ras al-Ain and most of the major towns and cities in Hasaka have seen protests against Assad by Arabs and Kurds, but the Kurdish community has largely stayed away from the armed revolt against his autocratic rule.

The challenge to Syria's central authority has strengthened the Syrian branch of the PKK, which Assad persecuted prior to the revolt when he had good ties with Turkey.

Turkey now accuses Assad of arming the PKK rebels who have mounted a wave of attacks on security forces in southeast Turkey over past few months.

(Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman; Writing by Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Matt Robinson; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Comments (12)
“Helicopters fired rockets at a grain storage area…”

You’ve got to watch those grain storage areas reuters, they have a nasty tendency to drive into marketplaces and blow themselves up!

Thanks for the free lesson on propaganda though..

And no, the kurds do not fear that the Islamist coup will lead to the new warlords and dictators in Syria “ignoring” their aspirations for autonomy.

They fear that they will be slaughtered, because the rebels work for Turkey and owe them a debt, and as Turkey slaughters Kurds… I’m sure the debt will be paid in blood. The Islamist militants have already vowed to “chop into little pieces” all Alawites. All minorities in Syria are petrified of these psychopaths! (your allies!)

If you had a journalistic bone in your bodies you would know this.

Nov 11, 2012 7:31am EST  --  Report as abuse
golfsailor wrote:
@pendingapproval
You have to be blind folded or born blind. If not, open your eyes and ears, maybe you will see things are not what you have been told. If you still can not see and understand, please shut up, you are just a nuisance. People are more intelligent than you might imagine.

Nov 11, 2012 9:47am EST  --  Report as abuse
Yesyes wrote:
@golfsailor Pendingapproval is a paid propagandist, most likely working for the either the Syrian or Iranian government judging from the articles he chooses to comment on, so it doesn’t matter what you say to him, or how razor thin his arguments are, he’s just going to keep on spewing this stuff out. Unfortunately for him, he assumes everybody is just as stupid and ignorant as him, and doesn’t realise just how blatantly obvious what he’s doing is, or how easy it is for anyone to check up on his “facts”. He also seems to think that quoting state propaganda channels such as Sana, PressTV, and RT helps his case when it only further exposes his agenda. I would personally find his posts very funny, if it wasn’t for the fact that many people have died because of what people like him do for a living. His one saving grace is the fact that he’s clearly not very good at his job.

Nov 11, 2012 12:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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