Syrian rebels ‘using Turkish refugee camps as base’ — RT
The Syrian army’s pursuit of rebels across the Turkish border has shed light on claims of rebel groups using refugee camps as safe havens. Reports suggest the Free Syrian Army could be treating them as springboards to launch incursions into Syria.
RT correspondent Sara Firth interviewed an anonymous source on the Syrian-Turkish border following the incident, who said that members of the Free Syrian Army were operating in the border region.
“They [Syrian rebels] cross the border, then they walk back again. Maybe the Turkish army finds some and takes them back to the camp, others just come by themselves. A lot of these people work with the Free Syrian Army,” he said.
He added that the Turkish government turns a blind eye to their movements and “lets them go back to fight.”
RT also spoke to a member of the Free Syrian Army operating in the area, who told her the opposition wanted to pressure the Turkish government into providing “arms and equipment from NATO.”
According to media reports, Syrian regime troops who were pursuing insurgents after they attacked a military checkpoint opened fire across the border, killing one and injuring several people.
Turkey has been highly critical of the Assad regime, and has previously been accused of harboring and training Syrian rebels in the south of the country close to the border region.
Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds wrote in December that US and NATO troops had been training insurgents in Hakkari, southern Turkey.
The country is host to around 24,000 Syrian refugees, including hundreds of army defectors who have fled since the uprising began against Assad 13 months ago. On Tuesday, Kofi Annan visited several camps along the Turkish border, where he was met with small protests denouncing the Syrian regime.
The Turkish government has considered setting up a buffer zone between the two countries to better control the influx of rebels. In addition, the head of the Free Syrian Army Colonel Riad al-Asaad is believed to be residing in Turkey.
Turkey rattles the saber
In response to the border shooting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to take “necessary measures” against Syria. He branded the incursion as a “clear violation” of the border between the two countries during an official visit to Beijing on Tuesday.
The Turkish government also summoned the Syrian envoy to Ankara to explain the occurrence.
Turkey had been a long-term ally of the Assad regime but made a U-turn in policy, becoming one of the champions of the Syrian opposition.
Istanbul hosted a summit of the Friends of Syria group last week, during which members sought to unify the fragmented Syrian opposition with a view to creating a viable alternative to President Assad.