‘What border?’: Syria war reaches Turkey
12 November 2012
Aware of the danger but drawn by curiosity, men huddled on a rooftop and gawped as artillery rounds crashed into the earth, yards from the flimsy fence that separates this Turkish border town from Syria.
“This war is not just in Syria, it is now here in Turkey. It is in Ceylanpinar,” said 26-year-old Ahmet Kayakiran. “What border? There is no border any more,” he said, as the concrete roof shuddered with every impact.
In the 20 months since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began, one by one the sleepy Turkish towns and villages up and down this 900-km (550-mile) frontier have watched helplessly as the Syrian war edges ever closer.
The proximity is no more obvious than in Ceylanpinar, where what was a single town under the Ottoman empire was split after World War One, with part remaining in the new Turkish republic and part coming under French rule in what would become Syria.
Ras al-Ain, as the town on the Syrian side of the frontier is known, was overrun on Thursday by anti-Assad opposition forces advancing into Syria’s northeast, home to many ethnic Kurds. Fighting has sent thousands of refugees fleeing for safety in Turkey.