Syrian jet bombs near Turkish border, 6 dead
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (AP) -- A Syrian fighter jet bombed a rebel-held area near the Turkish border on Monday, killing at least six people and wounding a dozen others, an official said. One rocket-propelled grenade landed in Turkey.
An Associated Press journalist saw the plane bomb an area around the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn three times. A Turkish official said one bomb hit a suspected Syrian rebel target about 50 or 60 meters (yards) away from the border with Turkey. Last week Syrian rebels overran three security compounds there and wrestled control of the town, located in Syria's predominantly Kurdish, oil-producing northeastern province of al-Hasaka.
Turkish ambulances ferried 18 wounded Syrians across the border Monday to a hospital in the southeastern Turkish town of Ceylanpinar, a local official said, adding that six of the wounded died. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. He said the death toll from the attack was expected to rise.
Hours later, a Syrian helicopter was seen flying over Ras al-Ayn, prompting rebels to fire on it with machine guns. The helicopter returned fire but it was not clear if there were any casualties.
The violence in Syria has killed more than 36,000 people since an uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March 2011. Hundreds of thousands have fled the fighting into neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
A surge of 11,000 more Syrians escaped into Turkey on Friday following the fighting at Ras al-Ayn.
Earlier Monday, a rocket-propelled grenade round landed on an empty field near Ceylanpinar. No one was injured, the official said. Turkey has been responding with fire to shells and mortars fired from Syria that land on its territory, but there was no immediate Turkish retaliation, according to the official.
The force of aerial bombing shattered windows in Ceylanpinar, the official said, and several people were injured from broken glass and shrapnel. The private Dogan news agency said a Turkish border soldier was also hurt.
Two ambulances were seen arriving at the hospital with two wounded Syrians, one bloodied and his bare torso peppered with shrapnel. The other had a foot injury. Both were rushed on stretchers through the doors.
Dogan agency video footage showed Syrians scrambling across the border Monday past a barbed wire fence, as Turkish soldiers in helmets, some of them in foxholes, directed them.
Also Monday, a Syrian helicopter bombed rebel positions in an area further south of Ras al-Ayn and the rebels could be heard responding with machine guns, the Turkish official said.
He said the rebels had besieged a Syrian military unit in the region of Esfar Najar and the helicopter was trying to open up an escape route for the Assad regime forces. It was also seen dropping ammunition and food for the soldiers, the official said.
In Geneva, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it anticipates that 170,000 refugees from Syria's civil war will require help in Turkey over the next six months. Around 115,000 Syrian refugees have already found shelter in 14 camps in Turkey, according to Turkish officials, and thousands more are waiting to cross in.