Syria crisis: Refugee surge to Turkey ‘as troops mass’
Growing numbers of Syrians are escaping over the border into Turkey ahead of a feared government assault on the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour.
A total of 2,400 people crossed the border into Turkey overnight, a Turkish minister is quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
The UN’s human rights chief has condemned Syria’s treatment of its people as “unacceptable”.
The UK and France have proposed a UN resolution condemning Syria’s actions.
The draft stops short of authorising concrete action, but even so it is not clear when or if it might be put to a vote, correspondents say.
Russia and China have now said they strongly oppose the draft resolution, with Moscow saying Syria must settle its internal conflict without any foreign interference.
“The situation in this country, in our opinion, does not pose a threat to international peace and security,” a Russian foreign ministry spokesman is quoted as saying by Russian state media.
The anticipated crackdown on Jisr al-Shughour is in response to claims by Damascus that armed gangs killed 120 members of the security forces there.
It says local residents have requested the army’s intervention to restore peace and quiet.
But dissenting accounts say the violence was sparked by deserting soldiers, and that loyal troops have massacred peaceful civilians.
Human rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been killed since protests began in February against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, and it now appears several hundred security forces may also have died.
The BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones, who is on the Turkish side of the border with Syria, said on Thursday morning that trucks were arriving and disgorging passengers on the Syrian side every 10 or 15 minutes.
Some passengers were quickly seizing the chance to slip into Turkey under the eye of Turkish border guards who have been ordered by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to allow them in.
A Turkish official who spoke anonymously says the influx of Syrians is sharply increasing, and the latest arrivals have included several dozen wounded in security crackdowns.
Many are sheltering in a tent city run by the Red Crescent in the town of Yayladagi, with plans to set up a second camp in Altinozu.
Most of the refugees were too frightened to speak to our correspondent.
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