Al Jazeera reports:
Syrian forces have swept through a northwestern border region to stem an exodus of refugees to Turkey that is raising international pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, witnesses and a rights activist said.
Reports of the military campaign on Sunday came as state media announced Assad would address the nation on Monday.
Meanwhile, Syrian human rights campaigner Ammar al-Qurabi accused pro-government forces of attacking people who were helping refugees try to escape from a widening military campaign to crush protests against Assad’s rule.
“The Syrian army has spread around the border area to prevent frightened residents from fleeing across the border to Turkey,” Qurabi told the Reuters news agency.
“Militiamen close to the regime are attacking people in Bdama and the surrounding areas who are trying to deliver relief and food to thousands of refugees stuck along the border and trying to flee,” said Qurabi.
Earlier, Al Jazeera reported:
Syrian troops and gunmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are reported to have stormed the town of Bdama near the Turkish border.
The alleged assault on Saturday followed another Friday of protests, which have grown in size despite Assad’s wide-ranging military campaign to crush a three-month old uprising. Security forces shot dead 19 protesters on Friday, activists said.
“They came at 7am to Bdama. I counted nine tanks, 10 armoured carriers, 20 jeeps and 10 buses. I saw shabbiha (pro-Assad gunmen) setting fire to two houses,” said Saria Hammouda, a lawyer living in the border town, in the Jisr al-Shughur region.
Saturday’s violence centred around Bdama, about 2km from the Turkish border, which is one of the epicentres providing food and supplies for the thousands of people who have fled their homes and have taken shelter near the Turkish border.