* Huge single-day influx heightens Turkish border concerns
* Erdogan hits out at U.N. Security Council over inaction
* Syrian officers desert to Turkey with their families
By Jonathon Burch and Murad Sezer
ANKARA/CEYLANPINAR, Turkey, Nov 9 Around 9,000
Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey in the past 24 hours, the
U.N. refugee agency said on Friday, one of the largest single
day influxes, while Turkish state media said 26 defecting Syrian
army officers had also arrived.
More than 120,000 registered Syrian refugees are now
sheltering in Turkish camps, and tens of thousands of
unregistered Syrians are living in Turkish border towns and
The latest influx caused alarm in Turkey which is
increasingly concerned about its ability to cope with such large
refugee numbers and has pushed hard - so far without success -
for a buffer zone to be set up inside Syria where refugees could
The inflow could see it redouble efforts to persuade others
of the need for such a buffer zone and may encourage Ankara to
speed up a planned request to NATO to deploy Patriot
surface-to-air missiles on its border to guard against a
spillover of violence. Such a move could be part of a no-fly
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hit out at the
15-nation Security Council on Friday.
"It is very strange. There are currently atrocities being
committed in Syria and these atrocities are being directed by a
state leader. While these atrocities are continuing ... there is
a United Nations that is remaining silent towards it," Erdogan
said during a trip to Indonesia.
"How far will this go? When will the permanent members of
the U.N. Security Council take responsibility? We are obliged to
act together to counter this, otherwise we cannot refer to this
world body as being democratic," he said.
Ankara has become increasingly vocal about voicing its
frustration at the U.N. Security Council over its failure to act
to stop a conflict that Syrian opposition activists say has
killed 38,000 people.
Although Turkey has repeatedly said it does not want to
intervene militarily in Syria, it has slowly been drawn into the
conflict and its forces now regularly fire on troops loyal to
President Bashar al-Assad in the event that shells or bullets
cross its border from its southern neighbour.
A Turkish foreign ministry official described the latest
influx of refugees as "worrying" and said initial investigation
showed there may not be enough capacity to house all of the new
arrivals but that Turkey was trying to accommodate them all.
The UNHCR said 1,000 Syrians had also fled to Lebanon and
another 1,000 to Jordan in the past 24 hours, swelling the
overall total who are registered or being assisted in the region
State-run Anatolian news agency said around 5,000 Syrians
had crossed into Turkey's Sanliurfa province overnight, fleeing
fighting between rebels and Syrian government forces in the town
of Ras al-Ain just across the border in Syria.
Syrian rebels and opposition sources said late on Thursday
that Free Syrian Army fighters had captured Ras al-Ain, an Arab
and Kurdish town in the northeastern oil-producing province of
Hasaka, but that clashes there were continuing.
A Reuters witness in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar,
which lies opposite Ras al-Ain, said he could hear the
continuous sound of gunfire coming from the Syrian town. Rebel
fighters in the town could also be heard shouting: "God is
greatest!" in between bursts of gunfire.
Schools in Ceylanpinar were closed for the second day in a
row, Turkish media reported. Two Turkish civilians were wounded
in Ceylanpinar on Thursday after being struck by stray bullets
fired from Ras al-Ain.
Anatolian said 26 military officers, including two generals,
had defected to Turkey overnight, the biggest mass desertion of
senior soldiers from Assad's forces in months.
The officers, among them two generals, 11 colonels, two
lieutenant-colonels, two majors, four captains, and five
lieutenants, crossed into the border province of Hatay with
their families and other soldiers, in a group of 71 people.
They were taken to Apaydin camp in Hatay, where Turkey is
sheltering other officers who have defected from Assad's army.
Defections of high-ranking officers to Turkey occurred almost
daily during the summer but have since slowed.
Relations between Ankara and Damascus, once close allies,
are now as frosty as at any time since the Syrian revolt began
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reiterated on
Friday that the Patriot missiles it wanted from NATO were part
of ongoing discussions for contingency plans within the alliance
but said no official request had been made so far.
Turkey is growing increasingly concerned about security on
its border with Syria and has summoned its NATO allies twice
this year over the issue, saying the alliance had a duty to
protect its own frontier.
The Turkish chief-of-staff has said his troops would respond
"with greater force" if shells continued to land in Turkey.
Last month parliament authorised the deployment of troops
beyond Turkey but Ankara is reluctant to take any unilateral
military action inside Syria.