More than 10,000 Syrian refugees are now living in camps administered by the Turkish Red Crescent. On Thursday, more than 600 more arrived; the Red Crescent’s president, Tekin Kucukali, estimate that more than 17,000 are waiting just across the Syrian border, many hiding in the olive groves and apple orchards — where, says the New York Times, a “plainclothes killing squad” is said to be searching for refugees.
Al Jazeera reports that government troops have entered Khirbet al-Jouz, a Syria village just 500 meters from the Turkish border, and are said to be firing “randomly” with machine guns. Speaking over the phone to Al Jazeera, reisdent Mohamed Fezo said:
At 6:30 in the morning about 30 tanks and several buses carrying thugs and intelligence operatives attacked Khirbet al-Jouz. They opened fire randomly across the village.
Fezo also said that most of the village’s people (about 2,000) escaped to Turkey but some of the elderly who couldn’t escape remained and some have been arrested. Several hundred people broke through barbed wire to get into Turkey; Turkish paramilitary police vehicles and minibuses were present, apparently called to take the refugees to camps set up by the Turkish Red Crescent.¬†Reporting from the Turkish border village of Guvecci, Al Jazeera resporter Anita McNaught said she could see Syrian soldiers and also that a Turkish building that had been flying a Turkish flag now has a Syrian one on it.
Officials in Turkey have been watching the deployment of Syrian troops closely, says the Guardian. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to remove his younger brother Maher, the commander of the Republican Gaurd and the “military mastermind” behind the brutal crackdown on Syrians. After years of a warming economic and political relationship, tensions have definitely arisen between the two countries, with Turkey now having a “close rapport with the US regarding … Syrian politics,” says Nihat Ali √Ėzcan in the Hurriyet daily.
On Tuesday, the day after Assad gave a speech at Damascus University in which he spoke of reforms and “dialogue,” security forces reportedly raided dormitories. According to the Los Angeles Times, 21 students were injured, 130 arrested, and three killed, allegedly after some students had refused to participate in pro-government marches “that displayed adoration and allegiance” to Assad:
The raid at Damascus University resembled similar attacks on rebellious students after the disputed 2009 presidential election in Iran, a strategic partner of Syria that some allege has been aiding the crackdown on a broad democracy movement.
Activists and witnesses said the government all but ordered thousands of Syrians to take part in the demonstrations. Artisans, merchants and clergy were among those who were sent “invitations” from Syrian syndicates, associations and ministries, to participate in the rallies, they said.
According to European-based human rights activist Wissam Tarif, the unrest at the university began after some women who heeded calls to go to the police station for questioning did not return to the dorms by dusk.
200 students reportedly protested about the women’s disappearance and demanded their released. Security forces responded with live ammunition and beatings, and cut off electricity to the dormitories.
At least 1,300 civilians have been killed and over 10,000 detained in the bloody government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since March. But protests throughout the country continue: The video below is said to show¬†clashes on Tuesday near the Khaled ibn al-Walid Mosque in Homs.
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Map of Syria¬†from Syria_location_map.svg: NordNordWest derivative work: Supreme Deliciousness (Syria_location_map.svg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via¬†Wikimedia Commons
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