Syrian refugee camp Turkey 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Ankara has called in every officer retired from the military in the past five
years to help staff its provinces bordering Syria, the Istanbul- based newspaper
Today’s Zaman reported on Thursday.
Officials have announced that 7,239
Syrians are currently seeking refuge in Turkey and the number is expected to
rise drastically with another 17,000 Syrians in transit.
possibility of a massive influx of refugees from Syria, the Turkish Prime
Ministry’s Natural Disasters and Emergency Situations Department began making
preparations for such a crisis two months ago by setting up a coordination
center, Today’s Zaman said.
The Turkish government is also concerned
about the possibility of a NATO intervention in Syria, fearing that Ankara would
be most affected by such a move and that it could spark a larger backlash in the
Muslim world, the paper reported.
Hundreds of Syrians fled across the
border after Syrian armored forces stormed an important town on the main highway
in a northern province near the border with Turkey on Thursday in an offensive
to crush popular unrest.
“Around 14 tanks and armored vehicles entered
Saraqeb this morning, accompanied by 50 buses, pick-ups and security
They started firing randomly and storming houses,” said a resident,
who fled the town in Idlib province, 50 km.
southeast of Turkey’s
Iskenderun (Hatay) province.
The Turkish government, earlier a strong
supporter of President Bashar Assad, demanded this week that he put a stop to
the killing of civilian protesters by his security forces and said events in
Syria in the coming days would be “critical.”
The direct message from
Turkey raised pressure on Assad, who said his forces would continue to pursue