Turkey closes blitzed border with Syrian ‘no man’s land’
Regime forces have been using helicopters and fighter jets to crush the opposition. On Wednesday, it was reported that thousands of regime troops were being redeployed from the border regions to engage in fighting in the two cities.
Turkey, on Syria’s northern border, was an ally of Mr. Assad before his forces started their brutal crackdown on demonstrations 16 months ago. The country has since sheltered Free Syrian Army rebels as well as thousands of refugees fleeing the violence.
“Turkey is being very easy with us. They let us take food across to the rebels and bring ambulances to the border to collect the injured.”
Turkey, which also has hosted the civilian opposition Syrian National Council in Istanbul, is not the only country that has provided support to the Free Syrian Army, analysts said.
“Arms are beginning to flow particularly from the Gulf states,” said Mr. Gerges. “We also know that the Americans and Western powers are providing intelligence, nonlethal equipment, communication equipment, logistics that provide the rebels with command and control.”
But along the chaotic border, rebel fighters said they had not been receiving help and had been forced to retreat from clashes inside Syria as they ran out of ammunition and food.
“After we ran out of bullets, there was nothing we could do,” said rebel battalion commander Abu Salam. “We had no choice but to cross the border.”
Like many other rebel fighters embroiled in the conflict, Mr. Salam and his comrades are frustrated by the lack of funding and help for the opposition forces.
“We haven’t received any help or assistance from the opposition politicians, the Syrian National Council or anyone,” Yassir said. “They’re taking the money and putting it in their pockets, staying in five-star hotels in Istanbul, while we are here with barely enough food.”
• Louise Osborne, reporting from Berlin, contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.