Turkey reports surge in Syrian refugees at its border

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Turkey reports surge in Syrian refugees at its border

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Turkey’s Prime Minister has stepped up the pressure on the United Nations over the large number of Syrian refugees crossing its border.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will not close its doors to those displaced by the uprising but he called on diplomats to take a stronger position.

Turkish officials fear they could be inundated with refugees if an internationally backed ceasefire, which is expected to begin on Tuesday, fails.

At the Reyhanli refugee camp in Turkey’s Hatay province, a group of fighters who didn’t want to be identified told euronews they think Damascus has had outside help. One said: “Iranians have been in Syria since the start of the uprising, since Deraa. The Revolutionary Guards and Al-Quds fighters came to slaughter us.”

Another was sceptical whether President Bashar al-Assad would keep to a promise to withdraw troops and called on the West to arm the rebel forces: “We need the international community to help us with weapons and we can easily remove Assad. Then we could liberate Syria quickly and in a short time,” he said.

More than 24,000 refugees have crossed the border with around 3,000 fleeing to Turkey in one day, last Friday. Rebels said that government forces have continued to lay mines nearby to prevent people from leaving.

Mustafa Bag, our correspondent in Turkey said many refugees doubt whether the peace plan will hold: “When Kofi Annan’s proposals are enacted, the blood will stop flowing in Syria and guns will fall silent. But the refugees here think the plan will just buy President Bashar al-Assad more time,” he said.