Turkey: Syria deadline void; border clashes kill 3

Gunfire kills 2 from Syrian side of border, Turkish news agency reports; Lebanese TV: Cameraman shot dead near Syrian border.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
April 9, 2012 15:11
2 minute read.
Syrian refugees: Islahiye camp in Gazintep, Turkey

Syrian refugees at Islahiye camp in Gazintep, Turkey 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

 
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Turkey reportedly declared an April 10 deadline for Syria to pull back its troops as void on Monday, after two people were killed and 15 wounded by cross-border gunfire.

A cameraman for Lebanon's Al-Jadeed television channel was also shot dead on Monday and an Al-Jadeed colleague was wounded near Lebanon's northern border with Syria, according to Turkey's official Anadolu news agency. The shooting took place in the border region between Syria and Lebanon's northern Wadi Khaled district.

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Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru said that in place of the pullback under the terms of a UN peace plan, a "new period" would begin Tuesday.

"Attacks which have been going on since yesterday have shown that the Annan plan cannot be implemented," he told reporters. "April 10 deadline is no more."

The refugees and at least one Turkish citizen were hit when the Kilis border refugee camp in Turkey's southern Gaziantep province came under fire from the Syrian side of the border, a Turkish foreign ministry official said.

"After this incident the Syrian Charge d'Affaires in Ankara was called and we demanded an end to this," the official said.

Turkish security forces increased their presence in the border area, which it was keeping open to Syrian refugees, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.



Meanwhile, international mediator Kofi Annan announced he would visit a camp for Syrian refugees in Turkey on Tuesday en route for talks with senior officials in Iran, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Monday.

"Mr. Annan will visit a refugee camp in Turkey tomorrow (Tuesday) on his way to Iran," Fawzi told Reuters in Geneva.

Earlier the British-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fierce clashes between Syrian security forces and rebel fighters close to a border crossing between the Syrian town of Azaz and the Turkish town of Kilis.

In Hama, activists said that Syrian military forces killed 30 people on Monday, among them 17 children and eight women. Activists said 40 people were killed in an army attack on the same town two days earlier.

Syria on Sunday demanded written guarantees insurgents will stop fighting before it pulls back troops under the UN plan, and a rebel leader said the initiative was doomed.

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"The regime will not implement this plan. This plan will fail," Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief Riad al-Asaad told Reuters.

Escalating violence has already raised questions over the ceasefire. Opposition activists said dozens of people were killed and wounded on Sunday when Syrian President Bashar Assad's loyalists shelled a rebellious area near the border with Turkey.

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, seeking to end a conflict that has killed more than 9,000 people in the past year, said the latest bloodshed violated the guarantees he had been given and urged Damascus to keep its promises.

The deal Annan brokered calls on Syria to begin the pullback of troops from around towns and cities by Tuesday and for a truce to start 48 hours later.

While emphasizing that would happen, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in a statement that Syria also wanted the written guarantees.

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