A Syrian fighter jet has bombed a rebel-held area near the Turkish border, killing at least six people and wounding a dozen others, while a rocket propelled grenade also landed inside Turkey, officials and witnesses have said.
The jet bombed the town of Ras al-Ain, metres from the Turkish frontier, on Monday as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad tried to wrest control of the area back from rebels.
The bombing sent up huge plumes of black smoke and scores of Syrians ran from the area, scrambling to cross the border fence into Turkey.
Helicopters also strafed targets near the town, which fell to rebels on Thursday during an advance into Syria’s mixed Arab and Kurdish northeast. There was no word on casualties.
The jet struck within metres of the border fence that divides Ras al-Ain from the Turkish settlement of Ceylanpinar, sending up plumes of black smoke.
A Reuters reporter in Ceylanpinar said the plane flew right along the border and appeared at one point to have entered Turkish airspace.
It was not clear what the bomb struck, but scores of civilians fled the area, scrambling over the fence into Turkey.
A growing refugee crisis
The escalating violence in northern Syria has caused a refugee crisis in Turkey; more than 120,000 refugees have already crossed over. To Ankara’s alarm, some 9,000 Syrians arrived in one 24-hour period last week.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an emergency appeal Monday for $34m to help the refugee population in Turkey.
The extra cash was expected to last for six months, Simon Eccleshall, the IFRC’s head of disaster and crisis management, told reporters in Geneva.
He acknowledged though that it was “not unimaginable that [the emergency aid] figure will need to increase,” adding: “We will be regularly revising contingency plans (and perhaps) the emergency appeal.”
Turkey currently counts 14 camps, all but one of which are tent camps, and three others are under construction to accommodate the steady influx, according to the IFRC.
The extra aid would go to providing winter assistance to the around 100,000 camp-dwellers, as well as emergency food and non-food assistance to up to 20,000 people at the Turkish-Syrian border, Eccleshall said.
He pointed out that the Turkish Red Crescent would assist only people on the Turkish side, but that since the border was “quite open” many Syrians crossed over to pick up aid before heading back to their towns or villages in Syria.
Contingency stocks for an extra 50,000 people were also included in the appeal, he said.
The emergency appeal would especially focus on providing cooking stoves, heaters, blankets and other winter items for Syrian refugees in the country as the cold sets in, as well as food and blankets to the people at the border, IFRC said.