Syria has planted landmines near its border with Turkey along routes used by refugees fleeing the regime’s deadly crackdown on dissent, the Turkish deputy prime minister said on Thursday.
“The Syrian administration has been planting mines, taking measures not to allow refugees to flee to the other side of the border,” Besir Atalay said in televised remarks.
Up to 500,000 Syrians may cross into Turkey seeking refuge from the deadly year-long crackdown on protests by the Damascus regime, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent warned Thursday.
Ahmet Lutfi Akar said his organisation expected more refugees “to cross into Turkey through the border province of Hatay in the upcoming days, as there is an extreme situation. There are various scenarios that this figure may climb up to 500,000,” the Anatolia news agency quoted him as saying.
Atalay said the Syrian army was militarily intervening in any attempt by the people fleeing the unrest. “Many have lost their lives,” he added.
The number of Syrians arriving at the Turkish border is increasing daily. Around 1,000 Syrian refugees, including a defecting general, flocked into Turkey in the last 24 hours, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.