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Turkey shelters Syrian rebels

Once one of Syria’s closest allies, Turkey is hosting an armed opposition group waging an insurgency against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, providing shelter to the commander and dozens of members of the group, the Free Syrian Army.

world Updated: Oct 29, 2011 01:58 IST

Once one of Syria’s closest allies, Turkey is hosting an armed opposition group waging an insurgency against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, providing shelter to the commander and dozens of members of the group, the Free Syrian Army, and allowing them to orchestrate attacks across the border from inside a camp guarded by the Turkish military.


The support for the insurgents comes amid a broader Turkish campaign to undermine Assad’s government. Turkey is expected to impose sanctions soon on Syria, and it has deepened its support for an umbrella political opposition group known as the Syrian National Council, which announced its formation in Istanbul.

But its harbouring of leaders in the Free Syrian Army, a militia composed of defectors from the Syrian armed forces, may be its most striking challenge so far to Damascus.

On Wednesday, the group, living in a heavily guarded refugee camp in Turkey, claimed responsibility for killing nine Syrian soldiers, including one uniformed officer in central Syria. Turkish officials describe their relationship with the group’s commander as purely humanitarian. Turkey’s primary concern is for the physical safety of defectors.

ICC prosecutors contact Gaddafi son
The prosecutor for the world’s top war crimes court said on Friday that informal contact has been made with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the fugitive son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in order to arrest him and bring him to trial.

The International Criminal Court charged Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam and Libya’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi with crimes against humanity for the bombing and shooting of civilian protesters in February.

Abdel Majid Mlegta, a senior military official of Libya’s National Transitional Council, said on Wednesday that Saif al-Islam and Senussi wanted to surrender to the ICC in The Hague because they felt unsafe in Libya, Algeria or Niger.

A NTC source said that Saif al-Islam wanted an aircraft, possibly arranged by a neighbouring country, to take him out of Libya’s southern desert and into ICC custody.

(Agency inputs)