Gunfire From Syria Wounds 5 in Turkey

Posted April 9th, 2012 at 11:05 am (UTC-5)
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Turkish officials say Syrian forces fired across the border at a refugee camp, wounding at least five people Monday, a day before a U.N.-brokered cease-fire is supposed to take effect.

Syrian activists tell VOA that two people were killed in the attack near a refugee camp in the southeastern Kilis region. About 25,000 refugees are currently housed in camps in Turkey's three provinces bordering Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the incident began early Monday when Syria's armed opposition attacked President Bashar al-Assad's security forces at a border checkpoint. Activists say Syrian rebel fighters killed at least six members of Syria's security forces.

Turkey has set up camps for Syrians fleeing a bloody crackdown on a 13-month anti-government uprising.

International envoy Kofi Annan is to visit one of the camps in Turkey on Tuesday in a previously scheduled trip.

Monday's border incident is the first of its kind since Turkey began sheltering thousands of refugees last year, but similar attacks have occurred along Syria's border with Lebanon.

Lebanese media reported Monday that a TV cameraman was shot dead in crossfire in the border region. Lebanon's Al-Jadeed satellite television blamed the Syrian army for the death of Ali Shaaban, saying troops opened fire at its crew which was on Lebanon's side of the border. There was no independent confirmation of the shooting circumstances.

Annan's six-point peace plan, including a cease-fire, is to go into effect on Tuesday, but Syria's violence has escalated in recent days with the killing of about 175 people.

A video released Monday via a social media network purports to show a spokesman from the Free Syrian Army joint command announcing the rebels' commitment to a cease-fire on Tuesday.

“The joint command of the Free Syria Army inside Syria announces its complete commitment the U.N. envoy Kofi Annan, in line with the U.N. Security Council resolution which calls for a cease-fire from all parties and we as the defending side of this dear peoples, announce a cease-fire against the army of the regime beginning on the morning of April 10. We will honor this promise if the regime remains committed to the initiative.”

Mr. Assad's government said Sunday it wants iron-clad “written guarantees” that insurgents would stop fighting before it withdraws troops from cities.

But the commander for the rebel Free Syrian Army, Riad al-Asaad, said it will not give guarantees to the Syrian government.

In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry urged the Syrian government and opposition groups to abide by pledges for a cease-fire.

Separately, an international rights group said Syrian forces have summarily executed more than 100 people, mostly civilians, during the past four months, mostly in March. Monday's report by Human Rights Watch said this includes several mass executions in the restive provinces of Homs and Idlib. The New York-based group says it only included cases corroborated by witnesses, but has received more reports of similar incidents.

U.N. officials say more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began more than a year ago.