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Report: Syrian rebels use Turkish refugee camps to attack Assad regime

http://turkey.setimes.com/en_GB/articles/ses/articles/features/departments/national/2012/04/30/feature-01

The seriousness of allegations about Syrian rebels using Turkish refugee camps is causing concern that Turkey is taking sides in a civil war.

Earlier this month, CNN Turk reported that Free Syrian Army (FSA) members are launching hit-and-run strikes against Syrian forces, only to escape to safety in the refugee camps in Hatay, Turkey.

Although the Erdogan government denies it, speculation mounts that such strikes are taking place regularly. The FSA is composed of soldiers who defected from the Syrian army in the wake of the bloody crackdown by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Osman Faruk Logoglu, deputy chairman of the opposition party CHP, told SES Türkiye, “We’re also following the related news from the print media and the television, where the Free Syrian Army members’ statements and visuals point to a highly likely possibility that these allegations may indeed be true.”

Logoglu complains that the CHP has been left in the dark. “We ask the government to provide us information [as to whether there is any truth into these allegations,]” he said. “The government does not provide anything to us.”

Bassma Kodmani, spokeswoman for the Syrian National Council (SNC), says that she has no direct knowledge about the issue beyond what she reads in the newspapers.

“These are all taking place in the media,” she told SES Türkiye. But when asked whether the SNC and the FSA expect Turkey to support them at all cost, she said, “This is a very sovereign decision by Turkey.”

Logoglu, a retired career diplomat who is well-versed in international law, argues that even the thought of Turkey turning a blind eye to such a possibility carries significant risks. He is concerned that it may give the Assad regime a pretext to retaliate.

“It’s against all international norms. It’s against neighbourly relations. If [a country] attempts to do the same thing to Turkey, we will move heaven and earth.”

Metin Corabatir, spokesman for UNHCR, stresses the international obligation that Turkey keep the refugee camps free from any armed groups. Stressing that the UN has no direct information of such FSA activity, nor that it has evidence of Turkey violating any international law in this regard, he told SES Türkiye “According to international norms, these camps need to be only for civilians. Otherwise, the camps may become the target of fighting.”

Whether the allegations are true or not, Logoglu argued “Turkey has taken the side of the opposition in the Syrian crisis. That means taking a side in the civil war. That does not help to end the fire in Syria.”

Categories: SETimes/SESTurkiye