Davutoğlu, Syria FM talk about troops at border
ANKARA – Daily News with wires | 6/23/2011 12:00:00 AM |
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallim talked Thursday about the military movements near the Turkish-Syrian border.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallim talked Thursday about the military movements near the Turkish-Syrian border and the Syrians fleeing into Turkey, Foreign Ministry officials told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Muallim said the reason for the latest Syrian troop activity by the Turkish border was to try “to catch the terrorists and military exercises.” The official said Syrian troops backed by tanks entered a border zone Thursday and hundreds of people fled into Turkey, as protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule hit the 100-day mark.
Some 600 displaced people broke through the barbed wire marking the frontier and advanced into Turkish territory on a road used by Turkish border guards, a few kilometers from the Turkish village of Guveççi.
They were flanked by Turkish paramilitary police vehicles and minibuses, called apparently to ferry the refugees to tent cities the Turkish Red Crescent has erected in the border province of Hatay.
Another several hundred people were seen further down the same road, walking toward the Turkish security forces vehicles. Earlier Thursday, Syrian troops backed by tanks stormed a border village where many of the displaced had massed, an activist at the scene told AFP.
A Guveççi resident said he saw soldiers crossing a hill on the Syrian side less than a kilometer from the border at around 6 a.m.
A Turkish flag raised a few days earlier by Syrian refugees in gratitude for Ankara’s hospitality was replaced by a Syrian one, an AFP journalist witnessed. Turkish police were seen laying sandbags and mounting precision binoculars on tripods on the outskirts of Guveççi.
Thousands of Syrians fleeing a deadly crackdown on dissent have flocked to the border in recent weeks, but many have hesitated to cross to Turkey, gripped by uncertainty over a future on foreign soil and wary of leaving their property behind.
Fresh sanctions from EU
The European Union on Thursday announced fresh sanctions against Assad’s regime, adding 11 individuals and businesses to a list of Syrians already targeted. “The council today adopted a decision ... imposing restrictive measures on seven additional persons and introducing such measures against four entities associated with the Syrian regime, in view of the gravity of the situation,” said a statement from the office of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
After already targeting 23 Syrians, including Assad and members of his inner circle, the new list includes three Iranians who will also be hit by an asset freeze and travel ban, diplomats said.
Activists meanwhile said a call by the Facebook group Syrian Revolution 2011 for a general strike Thursday across Syria to mourn those killed in the crackdown was partially observed in major centers.
The Facebook group also called on Syrians to stage rallies on Friday, the weekly Muslim day of rest and prayer that has become a springboard for demonstrations across the Arab world.
More than 1,300 civilians have been killed and some 10,000 people arrested, according to Syrian rights groups, in the crackdown that has seen troops dispatched to crush revolt in cities across the Middle Eastern country.