Border shootings prompt anger as Syrian deadline expires | News | DW | 10.04.2012
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Border shootings prompt anger as Syrian deadline expires

Turkey has warned Syria that any further shooting attacks on camps within Turkish borders would be met with reprisals after a refugee was killed on Monday. A UN ceasefire plan seemed in jeopardy on Tuesday morning.

Syrian forces fired across the border on Monday at refugees fleeing into Turkey to escape the Syrian regime's violent crackdown on its people.

"Syrian nationals taking refuge from the Syrian regime inside Turkey are under the protection of the Turkish state," the Turkish foreign ministry said in statement. "If such events are repeated it should be understood that we will take appropriate measures."

A Lebanese cameraman was also killed in a border incident when he was fired upon by Syrian forces while filming near the border with Lebanon.

"We condemn the act of opening fire from the Syrian side on the Lebanese media team, mainly as this team was operating within Lebanese territory," said Lebanese Prime Minister Majib Mikati.

Annan's plan at risk

The shootings come as a cease-fire plan put forward by the international mediator for Syria, Kofi Annan, and agreed to by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seemed in jeopardy.

Under Annan's peace deal, the Syrian army had been due to pull out of conflict-hit cities on Tuesday, with a complete end to fighting scheduled for early Thursday morning. One report said that Syrian tanks were still positioned outside the city of Homs - and engaged in shelling - after the deadline at 6 a.m. local time (3 a.m. GMT).

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Syrian cease-fire in doubt

On Sunday, the Syrian government said it would only keep its pledge to withdraw troops from protest hubs on April 10 if rebels gave written guarantees that they would stop fighting.

Riad al-Asaad, commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, said his group was ready to abide by the truce but that it does not recognize Assad's government and therefore "will not give guarantees."

US Secretary of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the government's demands for guarantees "another way to stall for time." She also said the US was "absolutely outraged" by the attacks on the Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Weekend violence

Escalating violence over the weekend was reported to have claimed almost 180 lives - most of them civilians. Activists say there is no sign of government troops withdrawing anywhere.

In the latest fighting, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 soldiers were killed in fierce clashes between the army and rebels in the northern Aleppo region and Deir Ezzor in the east. It also reported army operations in other parts of the country.

The UN estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed since the conflict started in mid-March 2011.

mz/pfd (dpa, AP, AFP)

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