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Turkey suggests Syrian safe haven

Aug. 20, 2012 at 5:55 PM   |   Comments

DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Turkey's foreign minister said Monday his country can't cope with the influx of refugees fleeing Syria's civil war, and may need to create a safe zone for them.

Ahmet Davutoglu told the Turkish newspaper Hurryiet 70,000 refugees are already in Turkey, and if the number "surpasses 100,000 we will run out of space to accommodate them," suggesting "the United Nations may build camps in a safe zone within Syria's borders."

Syrian opposition forces have expanded the territory they hold near the Turkish border, the newspaper reported.

Violence in Syria killed at least 19 people Monday as much of the country celebrated the second day of Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, opposition activists said.

The victims included two children and their mother in Daraa, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.

About 100 deaths each day have been reported by opposition activists in the past month, CNN reported.

On Sunday, at least 170 people were killed in Syria, the LCC opposition network said.

Mortars and rockets hit the city of Hirak Monday, and 10 bodies were discovered in Qaboun with "obvious torture marks," the LCC said.

Syrian President Bashar Assad made an appearance Sunday at a Damascus mosque, though Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa did not accompany him. Rebels have said al-Sharaa defected from the regime but the government did not confirm that information.

"If confirmed, [al-Sharaa's defection] represents yet another high-level official who sees that the al-Assad regime is a sinking ship," said Rafif Jouejati, a spokeswoman for the LCC. "I expect to see additional defections in both the military and civilian sectors in the coming days."

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