Rebels confirm clashes on Syria-Turkey border
Published Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The Syrian regime said it prevented 35 gunmen from infiltrating Syrian territory from Turkey, Syria's official news agency, SANA, reported.
Syrian forces briefly clashed with the infiltrators before the gunmen fled back into Turkish territory, SANA said.
An officer for the Free Syrian Army -- army defectors battling the Syrian regime -- said wounded rebels were taken across the border for treatment, but denied that the group was operating from Turkey.
"There was heavy shooting in Ain al-Baida with the army shelling homes in retaliation for an operation conducted by Free Army elements operating in the area against security forces. I can confirm several people were wounded and smuggled and taken to hospitals on the Turkish side," said the officer.
But he added: "These are Free Army forces that have never operated inside Turkey and are not coming from Turkey."
Syrian forces attacked rebels along the border after a Free Syrian Army assault on a police station near the border on Tuesday, the officer said.
Another Syrian army defector who was aware of the incident said at least three men wounded in the clashes had been taken over into Turkey.
Turkish residents in villages across the border also confirmed the clashes took place, reporting that Syrian troops appeared to be firing at people fleeing across the border.
"We heard heavy gunfire," Abu Fahd, a villager in the Turkish border village of Guvecci, said, adding that it came from the Syrian side of the frontier. "The rattle and sounds were heard until early dawn."
Another man in the village, Abu Yousef, said he saw firing coming from Syrian army positions and believed they had been aiming at people trying to cross the border: "The Syrians were firing close to the border from sniper posts on the hillside."
The alleged incident comes a week after Turkey announced it would prevent weapons crossing from its border into Syria.
A Turkish diplomat denied allegations that Turkey is being used as a springboard for armed attacks on Syria.
"Turkey is not allowing any armed groups (to launch attacks) against other countries," said a Turkish diplomat who declined to be named.
(al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters, SANA)