CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (AP) — A Syrian fighter jet on Monday bombed a rebel-held area near the Turkish border, killing at least six people and wounding a dozen others, while a rocket propelled grenade landed in Turkey, officials and witnesses said,
An Associated Press video journalist saw the plane bomb an area around the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn, some 10 meters (yards) from the Turkish border. Last week the rebels overran three security compounds in the town, located in the predominantly Kurdish oil-producing northeastern province of al-Hasaka, wresting control from the regime forces.
An official at the local mayor’s office said Turkish ambulances ferried 18 wounded Syrians to a hospital across the border in the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar. Six of them died. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. He said the death toll from the attack was expected to rise.
Soon after the bombing, a rocket propelled grenade round landed on an empty field near Ceylanpinar. No one was injured, the official said. Turkey has been responding with fire to shells and mortars fired from Syria that land on its territory, but there was no immediate Turkish retaliation, according to the official.
The force of the blast from the aerial bombing shattered windows in Ceylanpinar, in southeastern Turkey, the official said. A few people were injured in Ceylanpinar, mostly from broken glass and shrapnel. The private Dogan news agency said a Turkish soldier guarding the border area was also hurt.
Two ambulances were seen arriving at the hospital with two wounded Syrians, one bloodied and his bare torso peppered with shrapnel. The other had a foot injury. Both were moved on stretchers and rushed through the doors.
The fighting in Ras al-Ayn touched off a massive flow of refugees two days ago, and more refugees were seen coming after the blast.
Earlier, a Syrian helicopter bombed rebel positions in an area further south of Ras al-Ayn and the rebels could be heard responding with machine guns, the official said.
He said the rebels had besieged a Syrian military unit in the region of Esfar Najar and the helicopter was trying to open up an escape route for the regime forces. It was also seen dropping ammunition and food for the soldiers, the official said.
On Monday, China sidestepped the issue of whether it will recognize Syria’s newly united opposition coalition, reiterating its call Monday for all sides in the civil war to join in negotiations.
Under intense international pressure, Syrian anti-government groups struck a deal Sunday in the Qatari capital of Doha to form a new opposition leadership that will include representatives from the country’s disparate factions fighting to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime. They also elected Islamic preacher Maath al-Khatib president of the new coalition.
China and Russia been criticized by the West for blocking UN resolutions aimed at ending Syria’s bloodshed, including calls for Assad to step down.
At a regular press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei didn’t directly respond to a question that asked whether China recognizes the new grouping and president, or whether it thinks the opposition coalition is too close to the West.
Hong said that China is always of the opinion that all sides in Syria should stop fighting immediately, support mediation efforts and start a political transition “led by the Syrian people as soon as possible.”
“We hope the moves by the relevant sides will help achieve these goals,” he added.
China has always had friendly relations with Assad’s regime. Beijing unveiled its own four-point plan for a political solution to the conflict at the end of last month. But observers say it is vague and does not significantly build on previous peace plans that have failed.
The violence in Syria has killed more than 36,000 people since an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March 2011. Hundreds of thousands have fled the fighting into neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Another 11,000 escaped into Turkey on Friday following the surge of fighting at Ras al-Ayn.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.