BEIRUT

Middle East

Two Turkish soldiers killed in clash with suspected smugglers near Syria border

A riot police officer stands guard as pro-Palestinian Turks stage a protest rally against Israel's ground operation in Gaza Strip, outside the residence of Israeli ambassador in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)

DIYARBAKIR: Two Turkish soldiers were killed in a clash with suspected smugglers near the Syria border, a local official said on Tuesday, as Turkey faces growing international pressure to police a major access route for European foreign fighters.

Turkey's struggle to control illicit movements across its porous 900 km frontier with Syria is getting harder as its neighbor descends deeper into civil war.

Staples such as fuel and sugar command high prices in Turkey, meaning a black market is thriving and cash flows back into rebel-held areas in exchange.

Late Monday, a military patrol confronted a group of smugglers trying to cross from Syria into the southeastern Turkish frontier district of Ceylanpinar, sparking a gun battle, Sanliurfa province governor Izzettin Kucuk said.

"Two soldiers were killed and another was wounded, we know the other group suffered many casualties," he told journalists.

Security in the area was heightened, with armored vehicles deployed, Kucuk said.

Turkey is sheltering an estimated one million Syrian refugees, according to officials, many of them housed in camps along the border.

 

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