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More Than 5000 Syrians Flee to Turkey As Govt Forces Bombard Jisr al-Shughour (VIDEO)

More Than 5000 Syrians Flee to Turkey As Govt Forces Bombard Jisr al-Shughour (VIDEO)

More than 5000 refugees have fled from Syria across the border to Turkey, two days after the Syrian government began shelling the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour. The continued military assault suggests that forces remain in Jisr al-Shughour who are resisting them, says the Guardian. Residents had started to flee at the end of last week, following earlier reports that 120 security personnel had been killed.

The Syrian government has said that it is fighting “foreign-backed armed gangs” and claimed that it found a mass grave of at least ten soldiers outside the military police headquarters in Jisr al-Shughour, says the Telegraph.

In the New York Times, Amr al-Azm, a Syrian historian at Shawnee State University in Ohio, explained the importance of Jisr al-Shughour:

“Jisr al-Shoughour [sic] is important because it’s a border region, and it’s especially important because the Turkish government cannot be relied on to cooperate with the Syrian regime.”

More evidence is emerging about a “large-scale military defection in Jisr al-Shughour last weekend,” with residents saying those who have remained to fight the government are defectors:

Several residents who spoke to the Guardian said there had been a small defection by up to 15 soldiers in early June, which in turn had led to government agents being sent to the town to assess the situation, followed by a mass-defection on 5 June that accounted for many of the 120 people reported killed.

“Government forces are questioning orders to fire at unarmed civilians and defecting,” said a businessman in Homs with friends and trade partners in the town. “That is why Jisr is posing such a problem to the regime and the operation is taking so long as the defected soldiers will fight back.”

After being blasted by helicopters armed with machine guns and 200 tanks, most of Jisr al-Shigour is reportedly in ruins, its fields to the north of the city scorched. This video is said to show the burned fields and dead livestock outside the town:

With phone lines being cut, those fleeing have only been able to learn about family members via word of mouth:

Abu Tahar, a wounded relief worker in hospital in the southern Turkish town of Antakya, said his wife and nine-month-old son were among those hiding in rough terrain. He said he had lost touch with them three days ago and could no longer contact anyone he knew by phone.

He said he had personally transported men shot from military helicopters two days before he himself was shot rescuing wounded people from a large garden in the centre of Jisr al-Shughour on 5 June. “Have you seen the damage to a human body from a 14-inch gun?” he asked, nursing two bullet wounds to his back. “It was terrible. A massacre.”

There have also been reports of helicopters circling other towns and cities and of helicopters firing on demonstrators in the northern town of Maarat al-Numaan, according to the Atlantic Wire. Gunfire was also reported from other cities including Homs, where tanks had moved in on Wednesday, and the coastal city of Latakia.

Turkey, whose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a personal friend of President Bashar al-Assad, has said that it expects hundreds and perhaps thousands more refugees from Syria in the coming days and has said that it will accommodate them:

Syrians fleeing to the four crossing points nearest to Jisr al-Shughour on Sunday seemed more harried than in previous days. Some ran for the border and jostled for position as they waited for Turkish authorities. Hundreds more could be seen streaming down a hillside towards the Turkish village of Guvecci, where soldiers from a nearby base were waiting to receive them.

Humanitarian groups have again demanded access to the Syrian side of the border, fearing a mounting humanitarian crisis in the 12 mile (20km) stretch of hills and valleys leading to Jisr al-Shughour. Refugees who have made it to safety say thousands of people are sleeping rough, too afraid to move on as military helicopters circle.

Al Jazeera‘s Anita McNaught, reporting from Turkey, says that Syria’s neighbor has “had to pick a side” and decided whether it “could push Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president gently into the direction of democratic reforms.” But with the reality of the refugees fleeing the violence in Syria, McNaught says that “the message from Ankara seems to be that they are increasingly doubtful” of Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Joshua Landis, a professor of Middle East politics at the University of Oklahoma, described the events in Jisr al-Shoughour and its surroundings “the start of civil war”:

“We saw here an attempt to organize an army, rebel organized military resistance, to the Syrian government,” he said. “The Syrians cannot allow that to happen and must move in with overwhelming force because they must not allow a Benghazi to form here, where rebels would have a physical base and the CIA, MI6 and French intelligence could go in as it did in Libya to train and arm the opposition.”

So far, the US and Europe have said that a military intervention in Syria like that currently going on in Libya is not being considered. Italy has called for humanitarian missions to be allowed into Syria and Germany and France have called for a UN resolution condemning Syria.

 

Previous Care2 Coverage

Thousands of Syrians Flee to Turkey As Army Advances; Reports of Soldiers Defecting

Mutilated Body of 15-Year-Old Syrian Returned to Family After 6 Weeks

Syria Vows Retaliation For 120 Killed by Armed Gangs: What’s the Truth?

34 Killed in Syria Amid Calls for Assad to Step Down

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Map of Syria by 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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12 comments

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1:22PM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

While I can in no way judge the actions of people in a situation I can only imagine, I echo the wisdom of those who have taught us the ways of nonviolent resistance. We praise those who destroy their weapons and refuse to kill any longer. We discourage any who would kill another person in hopes of bringing peace.

Violence always creates more problems than it solves. I grieve that my own nation, the USA, is the worst perpetrator of violence on the planet. My sincere prayers are for lasting peace for the Muslim people who are so unfairly targeted by the fear and rage of my own society.

10:47PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Lets just hope Turkey continues to let them seek refuge there.

11:57AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

For as bad as things are here in the US, we are still better off than most nations.

9:20AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

I think that it is LONG past due that the United States of Central North America stop supporting Saudi Arabia altogether. I know that I do not support the "Governments" of these regimes that have for so long, been supported by U.S. Imperialist Bankster Families/Corporations, U.S. Oil Cartels, Criminal U.S. Politicians such as Richard B. Cheney, the Bush Family, as well as other Elitist American Families who's goals and agendas are to steal as much money and power as they possibly can...and then do!

I read the article above and then watched several videos that were listed after the first video played. It is disgusting that the citizens of our own country are suffering and will be suffering even more in weeks, months and years to come all the while we pay an Illegal and Unconstitutional and Unapportioned Tax on our Labor which is just paid off to the War Mongering, War Profiteering Manufacturers of the Military Industrial Complex as Pork Barrel Spending for these filthy, rich Chicken Hawkes.

I really do hope that the United States Government implodes completely and my fellow citizens start to wake up and understand that if we all pull together, we CAN stop paying this highly illegal Labor Tax. Watch Arron Russo's documentary: "America: Freedom to Fascism" You might actually LEARN something. Look it up on Google Video. Wake up! WAKE UP!

8:31AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

My hope is that a UN type force will be made up of Arab nations to stand up for the Syrian people not forgetting this did not happen under the Father.

7:46AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

This is where international humanitarian aid should be focused, now!

6:55AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Not an easy situation to correctly assess or imagine when most of us have drink, food, shelter, clothing, and love from family and friends.Truly incredible events with phone lines cut, relief workers shot, families lost, and many hearts emptied of hope.
Happily, government forces are now questioning orders to fire on defenceless and innocent people and now defecting to the "human beings camps."
Humanitarian groups must be allowed access to the Syrian side of the border. This is a ridiculous and inhuman situation. Oh that we could all implement that wise spiritual injunction to be pure in every thought, feeling, word and deed.
May GOD pave the way for wisdom to leach into the minds of those who implement such barbaric tactics.

6:52AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

They'll all be in the US before you know it.

4:36AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Very sad!

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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