Syrian border clashes wound at least 5 in Turkey

Clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebel fighters along the Syrian border with Turkey wounded at least five people on Monday, including two Turkish officials, when stray bullets hit a refugee camp in Turkey, officials said.

The gun battles occurred just inside Syria near the Kilis refugee camp in Turkey's Kilis province located right along the Turkey-Syria border.

"The injuries are a result of clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebels. The bullets reached the camp," Yusuf Odabas, the governor of the province, told Turkey's state TRT broadcaster.

Three Syrians were seriously wounded, and a Turkish police officer and a translator were wounded but not seriously, he said.

"These injuries occurred during clashes with the opposition forces. They were wounded by bullets hitting the container camp," he said.

A Turkish foreign ministry official said the Syrian charge d'affaires in Ankara was summoned to the ministry following the incident. "We demanded an end to this (shooting)," the official said.

More than 9,000 Syrian refugees are sheltering in containers at the camp after Syrian army offensives sent them fleeing into Turkey. A total of 24,246 refugees are currently in camps in Turkey.

Refugees from other tented camps in neighbouring Hatay province are gradually being moved to Kilis, which is currently able to house some 20,000 people and sits right next to one of several border gates along the 900 km Turkey-Syria border.

Mohammad Abdallah, a Syrian rights campaigner working with the refugees said rebel fighters had been trying to help wounded people and refugees across into Turkey when the fighting started.

"The rebels were attempting to open a corridor to transport the wounded and for the refugees to cross into Turkey, but they were not successful," Abdallah said.  "The Syrian military retaliated by firing on the camp."

Rebels from the Free Syrian Army, a loose collection of army defectors and volunteers battling President Bashar al-Assad's forces, regularly cross from Turkey, where they have been given sanctuary, into Syria to launch attacks on the army.

Rebels and smugglers also cross over to carry supplies like medicine and blankets to fighters inside Syria and to bring back wounded fighters and civilians as well as refugees into Turkey.

Activists and refugees who have recently arrived in Turkey say the Syrian army has been moving its soldiers closer to the Turkish border and has been laying mines to prevent people from escaping and from aid reaching rebels in Syria.

Mohammad Abdelqader, a refugee in the Kilis camp said he had witnessed the clashes and that two Syrians in the Kilis camp had been killed and two more had been wounded.

"The two were killed on the spot," he said, adding that one of those killed was in a container and was hit in the head while the other was hit in the stomach.

Turkish state-run news agency Anatolian said two Syrians had been killed and 21 wounded in the clashes but that the casualties had been brought over from the Syrian side of the border. Other Syrian activists said a third refugee was feared killed and least seven wounded.

Anatolian said Turkish authorities had closed the Oncupinar border gate next to the Kilis camp after the clashes for security reasons.

Earlier the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least six members of the Syrian security forces and customs officials had been killed in fierce clashes between Syrian security forces and rebel fighters close to the border crossing between the Syrian town of Azaz and Kilis. 
 

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