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Turkey fires at Syria after deadly shelling
Question of the Day
Turkey, which has moved military reinforcements to the border in recent months, has more than 90,000 Syrian refugees in camps along its border, and also hosts Syrian opposition groups.
There is concern in Turkey that the Syrian chaos could have a destabilizing effect on Turkey‘s own communities; some observers have attributed a sharp rise in violence by Kurdish rebels in Turkey to militant efforts to take advantage of the regional uncertainty.
Calling Wednesday’s shelling “yet another example of the depraved behavior of the Syrian regime and why it must go,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said the U.S. would continue to monitor the situation closely.
Turkey‘sAnadolu news agency quoted the governor of Sanliurfa province, Celattin Guven, as saying three or four shells fell on the border village and one hit a house, killing the women and children. The wounded included two police officers who were shown in television footage lying in the street as colleagues tended to them.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Aleppo bombings earlier in the day, but the government blamed its opponents, saying the huge explosions were caused by suicide attackers. The technique is a signature of al-Qaida-style jihadist groups, some of which are known to have entered Syria‘s civil war to fight against the regime.
“It was like a series of earthquakes,” a shaken resident told The Associated Press, asking that his name not be used out of fear for his personal safety. “It was terrifying, terrifying.”
The Syrian government said the bombings killed 34 people and injured 122 — although death tolls have been difficult to verify. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said at least 40 people were killed.
The state-run Ikhbariya TV channel showed massive damage around Saadallah al-Jabri Square, which also houses a famous hotel and a coffee shop that had been popular with regime forces. One building appeared to have been leveled and the facade of another was torn away.
The station broadcast video of several bodies, including one being pulled from a collapsed building. Rescuers stood atop piles of concrete and debris, frantically trying to pull out survivors.
Activists could not reach the area, which is controlled by security forces and sealed off with checkpoints.
The uprising against Assad began in March 2011 and gradually became a bloody civil war. The conflict has killed more than 30,000 people, activists say, and has devastated entire neighborhoods in Syria‘s main cities, including Aleppo.
Syria‘s government has always blamed the uprising on what it calls foreign terrorists, despite months of peaceful protests that turned violent after repeated attacks by security forces. The transformation of the conflict into an open war has given an opportunity to foreign fighters and extremists, analysts say.
The Syrian opposition denies any links to terrorists, but a Sunni extremist group called Jabhat al-Nusra, or Victory Front, has claimed responsibility for bombings in the past.
After Wednesday’s blasts in Aleppo, regime forces unleashed shelling on rebel-held areas and fired machine guns from aircraft, according to an Associated Press journalist in the city, Syria‘s largest with a population of 3 million.
At least 15 people wounded by shelling arrived with serious injuries at the city’s Shifa Hospital. All but one were civilians. Three bodies — an old man, a woman and a middle school-age boy — also were taken to the hospital.
By Michael P. Orsi
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