This content is not available in your region

Syria asks its refugees to return

Syria asks its refugees to return
Text size Aa Aa

The Syrian government is telling its citizens who fled to neighbouring Turkey that it is safe to come home.

Aid workers estimate around 8,500 refugees have crossed the border so far. The Turkish Red Crescent has set up a number of camps to house them.

They are fleeing the latest military crackdown on protesters demanding political change to the Assad dynasty that has ruled Syria for 41 years.

“We came here because of the soldiers”, said one man. “They are expelling people from their homes and they are firing at us with their tanks, they have smashed our home, they have destroyed us.”

Most of the refugees have fled from the north of Syria, particularly the historic town of Maarat al-Numaan and nearby Jisr al-Shughour.

The government claims their actions in the city were a result of 120 security personnel being killed by gunmen 10 days ago.

State TV showed what the authorities said was a rebel arms cache.

Claims and counter-claims are difficult to verify because most foreign correspondents are banned from entering the country.

On the political front the Turkish government,

which has had generally good relations with the Syria in recent years, is reportedly urging President Assad to end the violence and embrace reform.

Protesters in the Syrian capital Damascus have been burning Iranian and Hezbollah flags over claims by Britain and the US that they have been helping Assad’s crackdown by providing advice and equipment. Iran has denied the accusation.