VIDEO: Syrian Rebels Make Strides in Turkish Border Town Fighting
The United Nations says more than 11,000 Syrians have fled into Turkey and Jordan
Ivan Watson CNN
November 09, 2012(CNN) -- Syrian rebels claimed victory Friday at a key border town after fighting drove thousands of civilians into Turkey.
The battles between Syrian government forces and rebels raged in Ras Al Ain, just across the border from Turkey.
The fighting has pushed thousands more refugees out of Syria. By Friday, more than 11,000 Syrians had escaped into Jordan and Turkey and more than 400,000 had been registered or were awaiting registration as refugees, said U.N. Human Rights Council spokesman Ron Redmond.
Across Syria, 80 people were reported dead on Friday, opposition forces said.
Syrian rebels reported key strides in their nearly 20-month battle against the Syrian regime, said Amer al-Hasakawi, a Free Syrian Army spokesman in Hasaka. He said several rebel brigades have been slugging it out with government security forces since Thursday morning.
Fighters killed dozens of people and arrested others, he said. They seized government buildings, gained control of a border crossing with Turkey and took over border outposts. He said dozens of soldiers in those outposts defected.
Clashes continued Friday with military forces shelling Ras Al Ain with artillery and firing rockets.
Abu Ahmed, a rebel commander, also reported major displacement of civilians because of the fighting and fears that government warplanes will bombard rebel-held neighborhoods. He said rebels are helping move residents into Turkey and others have fled to nearby Syrian cities.
"Thanks to God none of the FSA fighters are martyred," said Sgt. Muahyman al-Taee, a rebel brigade commander. "We've killed big numbers from the regime's dogs. Soon we will announce the complete liberation of the city. "
The Ras Al Ain fighting could be heard over the Turkish border in the town of Ceylanpinar.
"People here have a lot of relatives on the other side, and they are coming up to the border and the Turkish military takes them and brings them into Turkey. We were told we can have our relatives be our guests for a few days," Mehmet Saitavci, the mayor of a neighborhood in the Turkish town, said Thursday.
Of the thousands of refugees, 71 were injured, the Turkish Foreign Ministry official said. Two died of their wounds. Most of the Syrians were sent to a Turkish camp in the town of Akcakale.
Also, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported Friday that 26 Syrian military officers and 71 members of their families fled to the Turkish province of Hatay. But Turkey's Foreign Ministry denied the report.
Before the new arrivals, the Turkish government had said it was hosting more than 111,000 Syrian refugees.
As violence went on unabated in border towns, battles between the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters raged elsewhere. At least 43 people were killed Friday when shelling and fierce clashes erupted across the country, with at least 21 deaths in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
The Syrian conflict, now in its 20th month, has left more than 35,000 people dead and widespread displacement.
The United States announced more than $34 million in humanitarian assistance for Syrians on Friday, bringing the amount of humanitarian aid it has allocated to more than $165 million.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly T. Clements made the announcement Friday at the Syrian Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, Switzerland.
The money will be used for several purposes, including the purchase of blankets, heating of stoves and other goods for refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon during the winter months. The aid also will target health care, including an immunization campaign for up to 1 million children in Syria to protect them from measles and other diseases.
It will also be used to help wounded Syrians at the Lebanon-Syrian border get medical care.
CNN's Gul Tuysuz, Hamdi Alkhshali and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.
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