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Syria-Turkey border: troops and refugees increase

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Syria-Turkey border: troops and refugees increase

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Syria’s army is increasing deployment at the border with Turkey, to stop people fleeing the Damascus regime’s violent repression of a democratic revolt. Protests have grown in northern Syrian areas bordering Turkey. Ankara has dispatched one of its senior generals to the zone. Turkey has been criticising Syrian President Bashir al-Assad with greater severity lately.

Refugees say the Syrian forces have come within 500 metres of the border, near Khirbat al-Joz. Secret police and soldiers have been setting up road blocks. There is usually heavy truck traffic here.

The UN says that since June, some 500-1,500 people have fled across Syria’s 840-km border with Turkey, every day. Rights groups say around 1,300 people have been killed since mid-March.

Journalists said a watchtower which before had a Turkish flag briefly flew a Syrian flag, until the Turks put a stop to it.

Witnesses said Turkish soldiers at the border were wearing helmets for the first time since they were sent there earlier this month. Opponents of President Bashir al-Assad’s rule say army snipers are also deployed in the area.

euronews correspondent Mustafa Bag said: “When the Turkish side deployed forces on the border and some Syrian soldiers came very close, Turkish soldiers immediately fired warning shots into the air, and the Syrians retreated.”