Last updated: 19 August, 2012

Turkey crosses Syria border to aid displaced

Turkish authorities crossed the Syrian border Sunday to distribute humanitarian aid to Syrians who have been forced from their homes and are massed at the border, emergency officials said.

The authorities gave out food and other supplies on Syrian soil, just across the border from the southern Turkish town of Reyhanli, in a region where hundreds of displaced Syrians are waiting to enter Turkey, officials told Turkish news agency Anatolia.

Syrians who flee their homes to escape fighting between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and anti-regime rebels often face hours or even days of waiting in the no man’s land border region to be processed and admitted into Turkey.

Their numbers increased sharply last week as regime forces pounded the northern city of Aleppo, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) from Reyhanli, with shells, air raids and sniper fire.

Some 1,000 Syrian refugees, including army officers and soldiers, have arrived in Turkey in the past 24 hours. Turkey is now harboring some 70,000 refugees in all, according to officials.

Authorities handed out baby food, sleeping bags and sanitation supplies to those waiting at the border. The Turkish Red Crescent has opened four centres at the border to accept donations from locals.