Turkey launched retaliatory artillery fire at Syria for a fifth straight day on October 7 after another mortar round exploded in the Turkish village of Akcakale, in the southwestern region of the Anatolian country. Last week, five civilians were killed by a previous Syrian strike. According to Turkish TV reports, a mortar round landed very close to a public building. There were, however, no reports of casualties followed the attack.
A rebel flag flew over a Syrian government army outpost near the Turkish border province of Hatay on the same day after rebels seized the building. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels took control of the area near the Syrian town of Khirbat al-Joz on October 6 after a 12-hour battle. Syrian troops continued their offensive on to retake areas controlled by rebels in Aleppo, Homs, and towns in the periphery of Damascus, the Syrian capital. They were also seeking to bring the southern villages to heel on the border with Jordan. The Observatory said the latest violence followed a blood bath on October 6, in which 154 people - 47 civilians, 62 troops and 45 rebels - were killed nationwide. The UK-based group gathers its data from a network of activists, medics and lawyers in Syria.
United Nations observers say that number of refugees fleeing the conflict has exploded in the past month from a few hundred a day to thousands a day. It estimates that by the end of 2012 the total may reach 700,000, three times the number projected a month ago. Bab al-Salama Camp on Syria's border with Turkey. In the past month the number of Syrians waiting to cross into Turkey here has grown from a few hundred people to more than 6,000. Turkey now host to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees and is building more camps for them. Turkey is nearly at capacity even while more people are fleeing the civil war.
Civilians are fleeing the consistent air and artillery bombardment, as well as depredations on the part of dictator Bashr Al-Assad’s snipers. Turkish authorities at the border block refugees until there is space in their camps. Officials say usually a few hundred are accepted each day. Most must wait up to 40 days for their turn and must stay in Syrian camps until then. Refugees who depart are quickly replaced by replacements that had been waiting in Syria’s interior. More arrive than can be taken in. They are sent back. Syrian opponents of the Assad regime are demanding a no-fly zone at least around refugee camps. So far, their hope has come to naught. Activists claim that at least 4,631 civilians were killed in the month of September, while the butcher’s bill for the fighting since June 2011 has surpassed 30,541. In September, among the dead were 333 children. Of the dead, 391 were women and 78 died under torture.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.