Turkey: Gunfire From Syria Wounds Three

Posted April 9th, 2012 at 6:25 am (UTC-5)
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Turkish officials say Syrian forces fired across the border at a refugee camp, wounding a Turkish translator and at least two Syrian refugees, in the first such incident since Turkey began sheltering thousands of refugees last year.

Monday's attack occurred near the southeastern town of Kilis where Turkey has set up a camp for Syrians fleeing a bloody crackdown on a 13-month anti-government uprising. About 25,000 refugees are currently housed in camps in Turkey's three provinces bordering Syria.

International envoy Kofi Annan will visit a camp for Syrian refugees in Turkey on Tuesday, in a previously scheduled trip.

Meanwhile, activists said Syrian rebel fighters killed at least six members of President Bashar al-Assad's security forces in fierce clashes close to the Turkish border. Syrian forces are escalating attacks across the country as they attempt to crush the revolt against Mr. Assad.

In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry urged the Syrian government and opposition groups to abide by pledges for a cease-fire. The appeal was issued after Syria's demand for written guarantees from its opponents threw doubt on the prospects that a cease-fire brokered by Mr. Annan would take hold.

Separately, a leading international rights group said Syrian forces have summarily executed more than 100 people, most of them civilians. 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. The executions took place over the past four months, mostly in March.

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

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Syria would not allow a repeat of what happened during the Arab League's observer mission in January, when he said the government pulled its forces back only to see rebels re-arm and take control of entire neighborhoods.

But the commander for the rebel Free Syrian Army, Riad al-Asaad, said Sunday that while his group is ready to abide by the truce set for April 10, it will not give guarantees to the Syrian government.

An escalation of violence Sunday killed at least 45 people across Syria. The country's main opposition group said nearly 130 people – mostly civilians – were killed Saturday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sharply criticized the Assad government for its continued assault on civilians and said the cease-fire deadline “is not an excuse for continued killing.”

U.N. officials say more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began 13 months ago.