Hundreds Of Syrians Flee To Turkey
Many Syrian citizens are fleeing from another crackdown of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as tension and violence has escalated. Members of the Syrian army have reportedly been attacking anti-government protestors in a continued attempt to crush any upheaval.
Voice of America reported:
There is visa-free travel between Turkey and Syria, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday the border would remain open.
Mr. Erdogan said at this point, closing the border is out of question. He said his government is following the developments in Syria with concern, and urged Damascus to show more tolerance toward its citizens and take concrete steps toward reform as soon as possible.
The Turkish prime minister has pressed President Assad to introduce reforms, but has resisted domestic and international pressure to take a tougher line, saying Damascus should be given time.
But the escalating crisis has seen Ankara toughening its language towards Damascus. Diplomatic correspondent for the Turkish daily Milliyet, Semih Idiz, says the government is taking an increasingly more nuanced stance.
"We understand there is still a dialogue between Bashar al-Assad and the prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan. On the other hand, the Syrian opposition met in Turkey and that could not have gone down very well in Damascus," Idiz said.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said more than 1,000 people crossed the Turkish-Syrian border between Wednesday and Thursday, and thousands more are expected to come.
From Al Jazeera English:
Turkish officials say they are preparing for the possibility of more refugees in the coming days; the camp at Yayladagi can hold up to 5,000 people, and a second camp is "under consideration," according to local media.
Video shot near the border shows dozens of Syrians camped out in a field on Syria's side of the border, apparently trying to position themselves for a quick exodus.
"We have taken all necessary precautions in case of a massive flow of crossings," Davutoglu said in a Turkish television interview on Wednesday.
Lebanon, Syria's neighbour to the west, has already absorbed some 5,000 refugees, though the UN says it is a "fluid population" and some of the refugees have already returned home.
The Lebanese government has not released exact statistics on the number of refugees, most of whom receive services from residents of border towns rather than government agencies.
"In general there are a lot of family links [across the border]," said Nadim Houry, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Beirut.
"The Lebanese government has tried to help out, but a lot of them are staying with friends and relatives."