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Turkish officials seek to combat Syrian smugglers

July 30, 2013 at 5:25 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, July 30 (UPI) -- Turkish military officials said they are defending the nation's Syrian border from as many as 2,000 smugglers per day trying to enter the country illegally.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called an emergency meeting of his security council to address the problem, Hurriyet Daily News reported. Ministers and military officials said the smuggling problem is exacerbating the ongoing refugee crisis resulting from the two-year Syrian civil war.

Military officials said a group of more than 1,500 smugglers were confronted on the Syrian side of the Turkish border about 3 a.m. Tuesday. Officers warned the group in Arabic and Turkish to disperse but they refused. Warning shots were fired into the air and tear gas was used to scramble the would-be smugglers.

Separately Tuesday, a group of 300 to 350 smugglers on horseback were turned away from the Turkish border.

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