Number of Syrian refugees nears 70,000

Number of Syrian refugees nears 70,000

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Number of Syrian refugees nears 70,000

Syrian children flash victory signs as they wait with their families at the Syrian side of Bab Al-Salam crossing border to cross to one of the refugee camps in Turkey. AP photo

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey is approaching 70,000 as heavy clashes between government troops and rebels are raging in Aleppo and the northern Syrian city of Azaz has been subjected to heavy shelling by government forces.

As of Aug. 16 66,000 Syrian refugees had crossed into Turkey, Turkish officials told the Hürriyet Daily News. Over 2,000 Syrians, including one defecting general, fled to Turkey on Aug. 16 after a Syrian air strike on the northern rebel bastion of Azaz in northern Syria.

Due to a lack of space in the refugee camps, 10,000 refugees have been placed in student dormitories in the southern cities of Adana, Osmaniye, Adıyaman, Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep and Kilis. The U.N also underlined the rising numbers. “There has been a further sharp rise in the number of Syrians fleeing to Turkey,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Geneva. Forty percent of those in Turkey had arrived this month, he added. Syrian refugees pouring into Turkey via the southern cities of Hatay and Kilis have also been sent to a recently built camp in Şanlıurfa. Construction of four other camps with the combined capacity of 40,000 continues in Gaziantep, Osmaniye and Kahramanmaraş.

Clash near airport

“Construction of two of these camps will be finished in about 10 days. Then we are planning to transfer the Syrian refugees staying in dormitories to these camps,” a Turkish official said.

On the ground, Syrian forces battled rebels near the airport in Aleppo, Syria’s state media said Aug. 17, in the first official acknowledgment that fighting has reached the doorstep of the strategic site in the country’s largest city. In Damascus, activists reported heavy shelling and clashes in many areas, including western districts believed to have rebel pockets.