* Syrian warplane bombs rebel-held Ras al-Ain again
* Rebel advance into northeast Syria triggers refugee wave
* Turkey pressing West for action against Assad
By Jonathon Burch
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey, Nov 14 Turkey scrambled
fighter jets to its southeastern border with Syria on Wednesday
in response to a renewed Syrian air assault of the rebel-held
frontier town of Ras al-Ain, Reuters witnesses said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's air force has been
bombing Ras al-Ain for days, trying to dislodge anti-Assad
rebels who overran the town last week during an advance into
Syria's mixed Arab and Kurdish northeast.
A Reuters reporting crew on the border heard warplanes
inside Turkish territory shortly after a Syrian jet bombed Ras
al-Ain, which abuts the Turkish settlement of Ceylanpinar.
Turkey has sent jets before to its 900 km (560 miles) border
with Syria and has responded in kind to stray Syrian shelling,
but there was no immediate official confirmation from Ankara
that it had scrambled fighter planes on Wednesday.
A Syrian warplane roared along the frontier and struck twice
before circling and bombing again, rocking buildings in
Ceylanpinar and sending up huge plumes of smoke over Ras al-Ain.
There was no word on casualties.
A trickle of refugees clambered with the belongings through
the flimsy barbed-wire fence between Ras al-Ain and Ceylanpinar,
which were only divided from each other when new borders were
drawn after the Ottoman empire collapsed in World War One.
The assault has brought the war back perilously close to
Turkish soil, testing a promise by Ankara to defend its border.
It has also led to some of the biggest refugee movements of
the war. More than 120,000 Syrian refugees are sheltering in
camps in southeastern Turkey, a region where Ankara is also
fighting an emboldened Kurdish insurgency.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, one of Assad's
fiercest critics, said on Tuesday his government would not
refrain from a "harsher response" on the border.
He chaired a meeting with Turkey's foreign minister, defence
minister and the military's chief of general staff on Tuesday
but no details of their talks have emerged.
Turkey's calls for a buffer zone inside Syria have so far
gained little traction among Western powers.
Ankara is now talking to its NATO allies about the possible
deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to the border in
what could be a potential prelude to enforcing a no-fly zone.
West of Ceylanpinar, a Turkish security official, who
declined to be named, said three Turkish border villages had
been evacuated on Tuesday, citing "security reasons".
Turkish media reports said the villages, located in the
Suruc district of Sanliurfa province some 140 km (90 miles) west
of Ceylanpinar, had a combined population of around 1,000.
Suruc lies across the border from the Syrian town of Kobani,
which Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) said in
August was under its control.
Turkey says the PYD is linked to the outlawed Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms in 1984 and is fighting
for autonomy in the southeast.
Ankara has accused Syria of arming the PKK, designated a
terrorist group by the United States, European Union and Turkey.