02/18/2016, 10.50
SYRIA - TURKEY
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Hundreds of militiamen cross Turkish border to join the rebels and jihadis in Syria

Local sources said that "at least 500 guerrillas" have "crossed the border at Bab al-Salam" headed for the battlefield. These include both opposition fighters and extremists. Aid convoys arrive at cities under siege.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds of militants have been pouring through the border between Turkey and Syria in the last hours, and headed for the town of Azaz, in the northern province of Aleppo, to join the ranks of the rebel groups and the opposition forces.

According to the sources on the ground reporting to the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, "at least 500 rebels crossed the border at Bab al-Salam". They are making their way to the battlefield, to help "the insurgents" who have recently suffered heavy losses "as a result of the advance of Kurdish forces".

Among the hundreds of so-called militants who have crossed the border there are both opposition fighters, and jihadists close to al Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Local sources said that it is the second time in days that a large group of rebels have crossed the border; another 350 had passed through the checkpoint Atme last Feb. 14, armed with light and heavy weapons.

Lately the opposition forces have lost ground from the advancing government troops (supported by the Russian air raids) and the Kurdish peshmerga in the province of Aleppo. The latter have regained control of Tal Rifaat and continue to pursue the goal of an autonomous state in the region. Today only the city of Azaz, near the border with Turkey and Tide are still in the hands of the rebels, but they are almost entirely surrounded by Kurdish forces in the west and by the Islamic State in the east.

Meanwhile, yesterday some UN convoys carrying aid have reached the city of Muadhamiya and Madaya, near Damascus, in the hands of the rebels and pro-government villages of Foah and Kefraya, in the north. More supplies are expected to reach Zabadani in the coming hours. UN sources report that there are at least 500 thousand Syrians living in areas under siege; delivery of food and basic necessities is part of the agreement that should lead, by tomorrow, to the "cessation of hostilities."

The war in Syria first flared up in March 2011 as a popular protest motion against President Bashar al-Assad but it soon become a widespread conflict with extremist Islamic tendencies and jihadist movements. So far it has cost 260 thousand people their lives.

It has also given rise to one of the worst humanitarian crisis in history, forcing 4.6 million Syrians to seek shelter abroad, especially in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Hundreds of thousands have tried to reach Europe, crossing the Mediterranean often at the cost of their lives.

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