Border clashes rage as Syrians heads to ballot
ŞANLIURFA / KİLİS
Syrian refugees in Kilis votes to select camp leaders and administrators in elections that the Turkey has called ‘practice in democracy’ for Syria.Schools were closed for one day yesterday in the Ceylanpınar town of Şanlıurfa due to the clashes in Syria between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The clashes between the FSA and PYD took place in the Ras al-Ain town of al-Hasakah province in Syria. Authorities therefore decided to close schools on the Turkish side for one day due to the security reasons.
Schools in Turkish towns close to the Syrian border were closed for a longer period of time in November last year, due to clashes. A man has been has also been wounded from a stray bullet fired during clashes. A Turkish official said the man was hit in the neck in Ceylanpinar.
Turkey requested help from its NATO allies after shells landed on its border areas from Syria in October, killing 5 people. NATO approved the deployment of Patriot air defense systems in December, saying the use of ballistic missiles by the Syrian regime posed a threat to Turkey and insisting that the move was purely defensive. The alliance said recently that the system should be operational by early February, perhaps sooner.
Elections held in Kilis
Amid fighting near the border, thousands of Syrians in a refugee camp in Turkey voted yesterday to select camp leaders and administrators in elections that the Turkish government has called practice in democracy for Syria.
Some 6,500 refugees at the Öncüpınar camp in Turkey’s border province of Kilis voted in the elections, according to the Associated Press. The camp, which houses some 13,500 people, is the most populous out of a total of 14 camps refugee camps in Turkey and the only one consisting of container homes rather than tents.
Turkish officials say the elections, which may be held at the other camps at a later date, are an exercise in democracy for Syrians. Turkey has opened its borders to refugees fleeing from violence in their Syria and has so far given shelter to nearly 153,000 people, according to official figures. Battling with the Syrian refugees, Jordan’s prime minister said the kingdom will shut its border with Syria in case of violence or a mass exodus of refugees if President Bashar al-Assad’s regime collapses.
Abdullah Ensour’s remarks to reporters reflect concerns of resources-barren Jordan, which is already hosting 285,000 Syrian refugees and has exhausted its meager health care, education, water and energy resources.
Ensour said that rather than taking in another “surge in the number of Syrian refugees when the regime collapses,” Jordan would dispatch special forces to “secure safe havens for the Syrians inside their country.”