UN chief to visit Syrian camps in Turkey
ÖNCÜPINAR, Turkey- Agence France-Presse
EPA PhotoUN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to visit Syrian refugee camps in Turkey next week and to meet top officials including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an official said Tuesday.
More than 120,000 Syrians have crossed into Turkey to flee the deadly violence that has engulfed their home country for 20 months, according to official figures, although the actual number is likely to be much higher.
Ban is expected on December 7 to visit several of the camps that house them along the border in southern Turkey, a spokesman from the Turkish foreign ministry said. Syrian refugees have been streaming into Turkey to escape the bloody conflict between rebels and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that activists say has now killed more than 40,000 people.
After visiting the camps, Ban is expected in Ankara to meet top Turkish leaders, including Erdogan.
The announcement of Ban's visit comes as NATO is expected to formally approve deploying Patriot missiles along the Turkish border.
Ankara has insisted the missiles would be for defensive use only but Damascus as well as the regime's allies Russia and Iran are deeply opposed to the move.
NATO experts are due in Turkey on Tuesday to look for possible locations for the US-made ground-to-air missile batteries.
In recent weeks, Ban has repeatedly warned against the Syria conflict spilling over into Turkey, a one-time ally of the Damascus regime which is now one of its harshest critics.
The Turkish military has boosted troop numbers along the frontier and has retaliated after Syrian shelling on its soil.