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ANKARA/DOHA (Reuters) - Thousands of Syrians fled their country on Friday in one of the biggest refugee exoduses of the 20 month war after rebels seized a border town.
Syria's fractious opposition was meeting in Qatar, under increasing pressure from the United States and Qatar to unite and form a credible body capable of ruling the country effectively if President Bashar al-Assad falls.
The United Nations said 11,000 refugees had fled in 24 hours, most to Turkey. The exodus is testing the patience of Ankara, the most militarily capable of Syria's neighbors and a strong opponent of Assa
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hit out at world powers on the U.N. Security Council over their inaction.
"It is very strange. There are currently atrocities being committed in Syria and these atrocities are being directed by a state leader," he said. "How far will this go? When will the permanent members of the Security Council take responsibility?"
The Turkish state-run Anatolian news agency reported that 26 Syrian military officers had also arrived in Turkey with their families overnight in what it called the biggest mass desertion of senior soldiers from Assad's forces in months.
The latest flight of refugees raised the total recorded by the United Nations to 408,000. The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday it could not keep up with the increasingly dire needs of civilians.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week called for overhauling the opposition, saying more representation was needed for those "on the frontlines and dying". The SNC is due on Friday to complete elections to its executive council and choose a new leader, before continuing talks with other groups.
In the last three months, the mainly Sunni Muslim Arab rebels have captured outposts on the Turkish border, moving towards the northeastern heartland of Syria's one million Kurds, many of whom have tried to stay clear of violence.
The Kurdish Council, a coalition of Kurdish parties opposed to Assad, called on rebels to pull their fighters out of Ras al-Ain, saying the clashes and fear of Syrian bombardment had prompted most of its
In 1938 Republic of Hatay became independent from the French mandate of Syria as the Republic of Hatay and following a referendum, 8 months later in 1939, it decided to join Turkey. This self-annexation was never recognized by Syria, which continues to show the Hatay Province of Turkey as part of Syria's territory on maps.
At present Syrians hold the view that this land is historically Syrian and was illegally ceded in the late 1930s to Turkey by France – the mandatory occupying power of Syria (between 1920 and 1946). The Turks remember Syria as a former Ottoman vilayet. In 1938, the Turkish Army went into the former Syrian Mediterranean province with French approval and expelled most of its Alawite Arab and Armenian inhabitants. Before this, Alawi Arabs and Armenians were the majority of the provincial population. For the referendum, Turkey crossed tens of thousands of Turks into Alexandretta to vote.[
Water disputes have been a major source of conflict as Turkey has constructed several dams on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers as part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project to develop the region.
Support of terrorism
Turkey has condemned Syria for supporting the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization internationally by a number of states and organizations, including the USA, NATO and the EU and has claimed that Syria employed Alois Brunner to train Kurdish militants for attacks against Turkey.
The two countries came to the brink of war when Turkey threatened military action if Syria continued to shelter Abdullah Öcalan in Damascus, his long-time safe haven. Relations have improved since October 1998, when Öcalan was expelled by Damascus and Syria pledged to stop harbouring the PKK terrorists and the 1999 signing of the Adana agreement, following his subsequent capture in Kenya, envisaged security cooperation between the two countries.
Edit to add: Apologies for going off topic. It is just very frustrating for me...