Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Situation on Syrian borders deteriorates
The instability in Syria has begun to spill across the poorly demarcated southern border with Lebanon, as well as the more tightly controlled boundary with Turkey in the north. Intensification of fighting in border zones could have serious consequences.
The situation along the porous Lebanese border has been tense for some time, with reports of cross-border incursions by Syrian forces as they pursue rebels and arms smugglers into their safe havens in Lebanon. Syria has also been accused of mining the area, a serious risk given that the border is poorly demarcated.
On 9 April Syrian forces were accused of firing over the border, killing a Lebanese TV cameraman. Damascus insists that Ali Shaaban was shot dead by 'terrorist gangs' who also attacked Syrian soldiers. Although not the first death from cross-border fire, the killing of Shaaban is the most high-profile.
Lebanese opposition leader and former president Amin Gemayel said that Lebanon is now at serious risk of the conflict spilling over from Syria. Lebanese politics has become increasingly strained over the Syrian crisis.
To the north, Syrian forces are accused of shooting across the Turkish border into a camp for refugees who have fled the fighting. Allegedly pursuing rebels, Syrian gunfire wounded at least six people in the camp – including two Turks, one a policeman. The cross-border incident prompted a strong response from Ankara, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisting that Turkey would “take the necessary steps” against the cross-border violation.
With fighting continuing near both the Lebanese and Turkish borders, the odds of more cross-boundary violence will increase.
Sources: BBC, Reuters, AP