DHAKA: Forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad have been left in control of only one of Syria’s eight border gates with Turkey after losing control of the others in pitched battles with rebels July 20, according to a Turkish official.
Rebels started gaining control of the crossings late July 19, according to a local official, reports daily Hurriyet.
According to the daily, an Agence France-Presse photographer reported that armed rebel Free Syrian Army fighters fought a raging battle with Syrian troops at the Bab al-Hawa border post across from the Cilvegözü crossing of Turkey and that some 150 rebels were in control of the crossing on July 20, showing pictures of the rebels.
Meanwhile, Commander of Second Army Gen. Servet Yörük visited troops in Karkamış village near the Syrian border.
An Iraqi government spokesman said Syrian rebels were in control of one major border crossing between the two counties, but that three others remained in the hands of the Syrian regime and were processing thousands of migrants fleeing their neighbour’s civil war.
On July 20, spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh refuted earlier reports that rebels had seized all four major border crossings between Syria and Iraq.
The reported border seizures were widely feared to be the first major sign of Syria’s civil war spilling over into Iraq.
Following the rise of the violent clashes in and around Damascus as well as across Syria, thousands have fled to neighbouring Lebanon, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Up to 30,000 Syrians have fled into Lebanon over the past 48 hours, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva on July 20.
BDST: 1656 HRS, JUL 21, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor
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