Syrian Government Fires On Refugees In Turkey

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For the first time since the Syrian uprising began 13 months ago, government troops have opened fire across the border into Turkey. The attack targeted a refugee camp for Syrians just across the border. There are conflicting reports on casualties, but the incident casts further doubt on the prospects for a ceasefire due to go into effect this week.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. The violence in Syria took a new turn today. It crossed the border into Turkey. Syrian government forces opened fire on civilians who had fled to Turkey. Two refugees were killed and a Turkish medic was among the wounded. As NPR's Grant Clark reports, Turkish officials say it's the first time Syria has fired over the border since the uprising began over a year ago.

GRANT CLARK, BYLINE: Distraught Syrian refugees loading a man's lifeless body into an ambulance, the drama captured on amateur video. Residents in this refugee camp of around 10,000 people just inside the Turkish border say they came under fire from the Syrian side of the border some 900 feet away.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: (Speaking foreign language)

CLARK: This man, who was afraid to give his name for safety reasons, says the attack near the southwestern town of Kilis followed clashes between Syrian forces and rebel fighters in the Syrian border town of Azaz. Some civilians fled the battle and crossed the border to the camp. Not long after, the refugees came under sniper fire. Officials in the Turkish capital summoned Syrian diplomats to demand an end to the border violence.

Upset camp residents today protested security conditions there. They accused Turkish police at the camp of standing by during the shooting, only intervening to help get the wounded to a hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: (Speaking foreign language)

CLARK: This refugee says they came to Turkey to feel safe, but now they don't feel it at all. Our houses, the tents they've made for us, they're all shot with bullets.

HALID AL-ALI: All of the refugees in all of the camps are angry about this situation.

CLARK: That's Halid al-Ali(ph), a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, based at another refugee camp in nearby Hatay.

AL-ALI: We hope that the Turkish government may start something about safe zones or buffer zones.

CLARK: Today's attack marked a bloody start to a week that was meant to herald a cease fire. The deal unraveled at the weekend, after Syria announced it would not withdraw its troops from urban center without a written guarantee that rebel groups would quit fighting, too. The rebels vowed to lay down their arms if the military retreated, but offered no written guarantees. The special envoy who drew up the cease fire plan, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, is due to visit border refugee camps in Turkey tomorrow. Grant Clark, NPR News, Beirut.

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