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Al-Salama, Syria - Agence France-Presse

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Turkish military trucks carry missile batteries on June 28, 2012 in the center of Hatay. AFP photo

Turkish military trucks carry missile batteries on June 28, 2012 in the center of Hatay. AFP photo

Turkey sent batteries of ground-to-air missiles to the border with Syria on Sunday, media reports said, boosting its firepower as rebels in Syria seized several border posts.
 
As fighting raged in Damascus and Aleppo, rebels were said to have taken control of three crossing points on the border with Turkey, which is sheltering thousands of Syrians who have fled the conflict at home.
 
A train convoy carrying several batteries of missiles arrived in Mardin in southeastern Turkey and will be transferred to several army units deployed on the border, according to the Anatolia news agency.
 
Television footage showed at least five vehicles in the convoy were carrying air defence missiles, in the latest show of force by Syria's one-time ally, which is now a fervent critic of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
 
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last month after the downing of a military jet initially blamed on Damascus that it now regarded Syria as a "clear and imminent threat".
 
Syria has in turn accused Turkey of sheltering rebels and training and supplying militants fighting the regime in a conflict that erupted in March 2011 and has now claimed at least 19,000 lives, according to activists.
 
Rebels were now in control of the Jarabulus, Bab al-Hawa and Al-Salama posts along the nearly 900-kilometre (560-mile) frontier with Turkey, a diplomat and Anatolia said.
 
At the Al-Salama border post in Syria, around 17 rebel fighters armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles were in control Sunday, an AFP photographer at the scene reported.
 
As some of them burned portraits of Assad, rebel leader Ammar Dehdeh gave details of the battle, which he said had lasted for three hours early Sunday.
 
During the fighting, against a force of 130 Syrian government troops, they had killed nine soldiers and captured another 20, he said. The other troops fled.
 
"This border post has a strategic importance for the regime, because this area is the most suitable one to set up a buffer zone," said Dehdeh.
 
"The capture of this post is a heavy blow to the regime," he added.
 
The Al-Salama post lies north of Aleppo, facing the Turkish border post of Oncupinar near Kilis in the southeast, where refugees at a camp there clashed with Turkish police after demonstrating over their living conditions.
 
An amateur video released earlier Sunday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights showed armed men celebrating the takeover of the Al-Salama post. One fighter identifies himself as the spokesman for the "Northern Storm Brigade" of the rebel Free Syrian Army. Several men standing behind him hold up their weapons to celebrate, chanting: "Allahu Akbar! (God is greatest)".
 
Anatolia had earlier reported that rebel fighters took Al-Salama after hours of fighting during the night, and that the sounds of the battle could be heard from the Turkish side of the border.
 
On Tuesday, rebels took control of the Jarabulus border post, north of Lake Assad in Aleppo province.
 
Rebel forces gained control of the Bab al-Hawa crossing on Thursday, but on Saturday, a group of some 150 foreign fighters were in control of the post, an AFP photographer said.
 
Some fighters said they belonged to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), while others claimed allegiance to a group called Shura Taliban.
 
They were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket launchers and improvised mines.

July/23/2012

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Blue Dotterel

7/24/2012 4:23:28 PM

Mara, Israel may do so on its own but would prefer not to as it would make things difficult for its secret Saudi and Qatari allies. The US is deep in Afghanistan and the American people would not look kindly on another war involving American troops directly. This is why they used the Brits and French in Libya, and why they want to use the Turks in Syria. The US and Israel are the conductors of these proxy wars.

mara mcglothin

7/24/2012 3:04:20 PM

TEKION I am not really confident in the Turkish armed forces these days with all the military leaders in jail. Do you suppose they could still be plotting strategy for the army from prison? BLUE The USA and Israel does NOT need Turkey to attack Syria. They can do that at any time on their own. No one needs to interfere and let the Syrians handle their own problems. Blame the West on everything that goes wrong. Now there is a great strategy.

Blue Dotterel

7/24/2012 1:06:57 AM

NATO is intending Turkey to attack Syria on its behalf. The missiles are preparation. What they need is some justification that can be misrepresented in their propaganda media that convinces people that an invasion of Syrian territory is necessary. This why the FSA keep attacking and murdering Syrians, and violating ceasefires or simply refusing to accept dialogue. The US and Israel want to destroy the regime, And as in Iraq and Libya, the people and infrastructure are just "collateral damage".

Tekion Particle

7/23/2012 8:46:50 PM

Puzzling, are we expecting an air attack from Syria? Those batteries should have been positioned there when the Prime minister was saying harsh things and outlining his feelings about the situation in Syria. Obviously organising stuff in logical order is not our forte. We shut the stable doors after the horse has bolted. Aren't we proud that our country is in such capable hands?

mara mcglothin

7/23/2012 4:57:18 PM

They shouldn't bring missiles to the area unless they are prepared to use them!
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