Syrian rebels seize control of a border crossingBy: NEBI QENA
AKCAKALE – Rebels seized control of a border crossing on the frontier with Turkey yesterday, pulling down the Syrian flag and briefly allowing people – some jubilant, some wounded – to crawl under a barbed wire barrier between the countries.
Turkish authorities quickly closed the area and police prevented the crowd from trying to storm the border and cross into Syria.
“I am a free Syrian!” shouted Zisha Bargash, throwing his hands in the air, as he watched the takeover from the Turkish side. “This is the beginning of the end Assad. Game over.”
A crowd of about a dozen people who managed to cross from Turkey to Syria hoisted a rebel flag to replace the national flag, sparking loud cheers and applause.
Syria’s rebels have captured several other border crossings into Turkey, as well as one into Iraq, but yesterday’s seizure of the Tal Abyad post is believed to be the first time they have overrun a frontier post in the northern province of Raqqa. Capturing such border crossings provides a strategic and logistical boost to the opposition, allowing them to ferry supplies into Syria and carve out an area of control, which is key as the rebels try to tip the balance in the civil war.
Yesterday’s takeover comes after a day of fierce clashes as rebels and regime forces fought for control of the Tal Abyad crossing.
Turkey’s private Dogan news agency said earlier yesterday that the rebels had surrounded the customs building and engaged in an intense fire fight with Syrian sharp-shooters positioned in the building. Several people were wounded in the battles and were taken to Turkey for treatment, the report said.
Civilians escaping the violence reported that several people were killed in the fighting around Tal Abyad, Dogan reported.
The conflict has sent refugees pouring into neighbouring countries. Some 83 000 refugees have found shelter in 12 camps along the Turkish border with Syria. – Nampa-AP