Two Turkish soldiers killed in clash with suspected smugglers near Syria border

DIYARBAKIR Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:40am EDT

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DIYARBAKIR (Reuters) - Two Turkish soldiers were killed in a clash with suspected smugglers near the Syria border, a local official said on Tuesday, as Turkey faces growing international pressure to police a major access route for European foreign fighters.

Turkey's struggle to control illicit movements across its porous 900 km (560 miles) frontier with Syria is getting harder as its neighbor descends deeper into civil war.

Staples such as fuel and sugar command high prices in Turkey, meaning a black market is thriving and cash flows back into rebel-held areas in exchange.

Late on Monday, a military patrol confronted a group of smugglers trying to cross from Syria into the southeastern Turkish frontier district of Ceylanpinar, sparking a gun battle, Sanliurfa province governor Izzettin Kucuk said.

"Two soldiers were killed and another was wounded, we know the other group suffered many casualties," he told journalists.

Security in the area was heightened, with armored vehicles deployed, Kucuk said.

Turkey is sheltering an estimated one million Syrian refugees, according to officials, many of them housed in camps along the border.

(Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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