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News Wrap: Expecting More Syrians, Turkey Builds Another Refugee Camp

June 13, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A continuing government crackdown on protesters in Syria forced more people to flee across the border into Turkey today. On Sunday, the military reined in protesters in a northern border town using elite ground forces, helicopters and tanks.

We have a report from John Ray of Independent Television News, who is on the border between Syria and Turkey.

JOHN RAY: An uprising crushed, a victory celebrated on the Syrian TV tonight. And in the town of Jisr Al-Shugur, the regime claims its uncovered atrocities committed by rebels.

But, as the army has advanced, a population has scattered, and terrorized survivors tell a different story.

“They have attacked us. They chased us,” she cries. “I don’t know where my aunts and uncles are.” In tented clinics on the Turkish side of the border, they tend the injured. Not even the innocent have been spared the violence.

The firsthand accounts now emerging with these refugees, let alone the injuries they have sustained, add up to the most compelling evidence yet of the brutality of the Syrian regime’s crackdown. Many more witnesses are still on the Syrian side of the border, our way to their camp blocked by Turkish troops. But we found a path over the hills around the checkpoints.

There are perhaps 2,000 of them, water and food in short supply, too scared to go home.

This man tells me his four brothers have disappeared. He thinks they’re dead.

We hear time and again that the army attacks with tanks and helicopters and machine guns. Many will not cross into Turkey until they can find family lost in the turmoil. Today, we met Ahmed and Ibrahim, both trying it to find missing wives and children. They have come to Turkey to fetch supplies.

“We have nothing in the camp,” they say. “We hope that, by speaking, the world will help us.”

Turkey is building yet another refugee camp ready for thousands more to spill over the border.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The refugee influx came as Turkey held national elections and voted to keep the ruling party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in power. His Justice and Development Party won 50 percent of the vote, short of the two-thirds majority needed for constitutional change.

Last night, thousands of his supporters gathered outside party headquarters waving flags and cheering the victory. Kurdish candidates also made big gains, doubling their seats in parliament.

Libyan rebels made advances, but also sustained losses in heavy fighting with government forces today. Over the weekend, rebel fighters claimed to make significant process — progress, moving in on Tripoli from both the east and west. And they said they controlled parts of the coastal oil center of Zawiyah, but a government spokesman said the city was secure.

Shelling outside Misrata was intense today, with rockets and mortar shells slamming into rebel lines every seven minutes. Farther west, in Brega, doctors said at least 23 rebels were killed in a government ambush.

In Afghanistan, two NATO troops were killed in insurgent attacks over the weekend. Both attacks happened in the south on Sunday, but NATO officials didn’t release the soldiers’ nationalities — 26 NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan this month.

Fire officials in Arizona reported today wildfires raging in the east of the state are now 10 percent contained. The blaze covers more than 700 square miles, and has destroyed 30 homes and cabins since igniting in late may. But, along the New Mexico state line, fire crews reported they are making good progress. The 7,000 residents of two towns, Eagar and Springerville, were allowed to go home after officials lifted evacuation orders yesterday.

The Missouri River breached two levees in northwest Missouri today, sending torrents of water across farmland in both Missouri and neighboring Iowa. An Army Corps of Engineers official said one breach was 50-feet-wide and happened in a matter of minutes. The Missouri and Mississippi Rivers have reached record levels. And levee breaches and planned pressure releases have forced hundreds from their homes this year.

On Wall Street today, stocks ended the day mixed, and the Dow Jones industrial average stayed below 12,000. The Dow gained a point to close just under 11,953. The Nasdaq fell four points to close above 2,639. And oil tumbled to its lowest price in nearly a month, dropping nearly two percent in New York trading to close just over $97 a barrel.

Basketball’s Dallas Mavericks celebrated their victory over the Miami Heat today. They clinched the NBA championship last night in Miami in game six with a score of 105-95. The team flew back to Dallas today and was greeted at the airport by crowds of cheering fans. It is the first time the Mavericks franchise has won the championship.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.