More Syrian refugees cross into Turkey
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that his country will continue to accept the hundreds of Syrian refugees who are fleeing their nation's violence, but he urged Syria's government to adopt reforms aimed at ending the unrest.
About 450 refugees, including more than 30 people who were wounded in clashes, have arrived in Turkey, authorities said. The nations share an 850 kilometer (520-mile) border.
Most of the refugees are fleeing a tense northern town, Jisr al-Shughour, which is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Turkey.
The residents fear a crackdown by their government following a deadly mutiny of Syrian soldiers that set off fighting with officers and security guards. The Syrian government said 120 of its forces were dead and acknowledged losing "intermittent" control of the area.
Erdogan, whose government has close ties with Syrian leader Bashar Assad, said the situation in Syria is of deep concern for Turkey.
"It is out of question for us to shut down the border crossings," Erdogan said. "The developments in Syria are saddening. We are watching it with great concern."
Erdogan once again urged Assad to enact reforms to meet the demands of pro-democracy activists protesting there. Syria has defied international calls to stop its brutal crackdown on the unrest, which has left hundreds of people dead since March.
"We hope that Syria softens its stance toward civilians as soon as possible and makes the steps it is taking for reforms more convincing for civilians, for a transformation," Erdogan said at a news conference that was nationally televised in Turkey.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said all the refugees, including the 122 who arrived overnight, were being sheltered in a camp set up by Turkey's Red Crescent, the equivalent of the Red Cross, in the border town of Yayladagi.
More than 30 Syrian refugees have been treated at Turkish hospitals for wounds they suffered in clashes in northern Syria, authorities said. One Syrian has died.
Turkey has said it is prepared to deal with a mass influx of Syrian refugees.
"We have sweeping preparations, but I hope there will be no need for that," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told NTV television on Wednesday.