Friday, August 10, 2012

Influx, Clashes at Border

While heavy clashes between government troops and rebels raged yesterday in northern areas of Syria near the Turkish border, around 3,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in Syria are waiting near the Turkish border at the Öncüpınar gate in the Kilis district.

Early in the day, a Turkish official said around 1,000 people are waiting at the border due to lack of space. Later in the day, the number reportedly increased to 3,000. However, there is no immediate verification of the number, as Hürriyet Daily News went to press.

“Five thousand Syrian refugees have poured into Turkey in the last three days, and around 1,000 are waiting at the border; we can’t take them now because there is not enough space in the camps to place them,” a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey who have fled the escalating violence has reached more than 50,000, Turkish officials said. The total number of the refugees was 50,227 as of yesterday after more than 5,000 Syrians crossed into Turkey this week, the country’s Disaster and Emergency Administration
(AFAD) said in a statement posted on its website.

Clashes between government troops and rebels raged in opposition bastions of the besieged city of Aleppo, according to the Associated Press.

The regime pressed its new assault on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial hub, for a second day. The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) withdrew completely from the embattled district of Salaheddin in Aleppo, as regime forces advanced, a rebel commander said, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

Tactical withdrawal “We have staged a tactical withdrawal from Salaheddin,” Hossam Abu Mohammed said. “The district is completely empty of rebel fighters. Regime forces are now advancing into Salaheddin.” Another Aleppo-based activist, Mohammad Saeed, said troops were using warplanes and tanks to shell the towns of Hreitan and Tel Rifat, some 35 kilometers north of Aleppo and 20 kilometers south of the Turkish border; from where most of the rebels converged on the city. Syrian fighter jets launched airstrikes Aug. 8 on Tel Rifat, hitting a house and a high school and killing six members of one family, residents said. Entries and exits at the Yayladağı border gate in the southern Turkish city of Hatay have almost stopped because of the clashes between Syrian government forces
and rebels occurring in areas near the Turkish border.

Incoming refugees have been placed in the newly constructed shelter camp in the Akçakale district of the southern city of Şanlıurfa.

The governor of Şanlıurfa, Celalettin Güvenç, said an extraordinary effort was made to construct the shelter camp at Akçakale quickly, and the work went on both day and night in order to be able to finish it, according to Anatolia news agency. The construction of the Şanlıurfa camp has not yet been completed, but it should be finished within a few days, according to a Turkish official. Turkey is working to increase the capacity of its camps to shelter Syrian refugees to a total of 100,000 in the following
weeks. Five new shelter camps with a total capacity of 50,000 people are being built in cities in southern and southeastern Turkey.

Friday, 10 August 2012
by İpek Yezdani
Hurriyet Daily News