BEIRUT

Middle East

Turkey deploys artillery near Syria border post

A Syrian rebel fighter shows his skills to the young recruits of the Amr Ibn al-Aass brigade during a training with rifles on the outskirts of Azaz, in northern Syria, on September 19, 2012. ( AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI)

ISTANBUL: The Turkish army has deployed artillery and anti-aircraft missiles near a Syria border post being disputed between Damascus regime forces and rebels in fierce clashes, media reported Saturday.

A score of howitzer batteries and missiles were moved to the area as a precautionary measure amid continued fighting on Syrian soil for the control of the Tall al-Abyad border post, NTV news channel said.

The deployment comes after shelling by Syrian government forces wounded two Turkish citizens on Thursday in the southeastern border city of Sanliurfa, as they tried to win back the post from the rebels.

The two were injured by four fragments of a shell that exploded just on the Syrian side of the border. Another unexploded shell was found and the area sealed off while it was detonated.

The rebels seized control of the post, which lies on the main highway between Sanliurfa and the city of Raqa in northeastern Syria, on Wednesday from troops loyal to President Bashar Assad.

Three other civilians were also wounded on Tuesday by stray bullets fired from the Syrian side, prompting local officials to warn citizens to stay away from the border line. Schools in the area were also closed until Monday.

Tall al-Abyad is about 100 kilometers (65 miles) north of Raqa and the border post was relatively little used until recently.

Since late July, Syrian rebels have seized control of at least three key border crossings with Turkey and others on Syria's eastern border with Iraq.

 

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