Monday, 27 June 2011

Syrian government widens border crackdown

Some 12,000 Syrians have fled to refugee camps in Turkey

Uncertainty continues in Syria's border areas as the government's security forces widen their reach and thousands more are forced to flee from their homes.
On Saturday, 25th June, tanks moved into the village of Najia, after similar operations were carried out in Jisr al-Shughur on 12th June and Khirbet al-Joz on Thursday 23rd June.
Troops also moved into the village of Bdama on Saturday, which Reuters called a 'nerve centre', providing food and supplies to several thousand Syrians who have fled the besieged frontier towns, but have chosen to take shelter in fields on the Syrian side of the border, rather than cross into Turkey.

Umit Bektas, a Reuters photographer said he had seen armoured vehicles taking up positions on the Syrian hillside, apparently with the aim of preventing more Syrians from crossing the border.

It is believed that the government is carrying out a 'scorched earth' policy in the border region.

Some 12,000 Syrians have crossed into Turkey in recent weeks, and most are now residing in temporary refugee camps set up by the Turkish government.

The crackdown has been portrayed in a very different light by the Syrian government. The pro-government daily newspaper Al-Watan said of the attacks on Khirbet al-Joz, that the town was a "key crossing for armed groups from and to the Turkish" border. It said the army was 'now cleansing' the village of armed gangs, securing roads and protecting residents.

The State news agency SANA took a similar approach to the refugee question, saying families were returning from Turkey to Jisr Al-Shughur.

“Almost 730 people have returned…They had fled from the terror of the terrorist groups in the region,” it said.

There has been tension near Syria's borders with both Turkey and Lebanon

Violence is also occurring near the Lebanese borders, with activists saying people were forced to flee from the border towns of Al-Hit, Dweik and Quseir on Friday and Saturday.

At least five civilians were killed in Quseir on Saturday during house searches and funerals for anti-government protestors, killed during demonstrations on Friday. Quseir is located near the flashpoint city of Homs and only 15km from the Lebanese border.

The government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has been hit by waves of protests since mid-March.

Sources: Al-Jazeera, BBC News,, Reuters

For more information, please see the Menas Borders website here.

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