10/12/2012, 00.00
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As Damascus, Ankara and Moscow argue over weapons, people die in Aleppo and Homs for lack of medical care

Turkish PM says Russian-made weapons and ammunitions were found on Syrian civilian plane grounded on Wednesday. Moscow denies any involvement, wants equipment returned. People flee Homs and Aleppo to avoid getting killed. In Damascus, more young people go back to support Assad regime.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - The war of words between Syria and Turkey has now involved Russia, which has been accused of selling weapons to the Assad regime. Turkish Prime Minister said Russian-made weapons and ammunitions were found on board a Syrian Airlines plane carrying 36 passengers that was grounded for eight hours on Wednesday.

The incident has proved embarrassing for Moscow, which now wants the equipment back and accuses Turkey of preventing its diplomats from seeing its citizens on board the plane.

For months, Erdogan has been pushing for a buffer zone in Syrian territory to protect Turkish villages along the border and rebel groups who use refugee camps as military bases.

In Turkey, many fear the Syrian conflict might spill over into their country, and have organised a series of demonstrations calling for negotiations with Assad.

On 5 October, Turkey's Freedom and Solidarity Party and other opposition parties rallied in Istanbul and Ankara to oppose Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu, whom they accuse of stirring civil war with Turkish money.

With Ankara, Damascus and Moscow at loggerheads, a diplomatic solution to the conflict is reaching a "point of no return," sources told AsiaNews.

"The situation in Homs and Aleppo is desperate," they added. "The body count is endless. International humanitarian agencies on the ground cannot move. The Red Cross is doing what it can to rescue the wounded, but bombing has cut communications between the cities and the villages. Many are dying without medical care, especially children. For some, escaping is the only way of surviving."

"None of us knows how long the situation will continue," the sources told AsiaNews. "The Syrian opposition is divided politically and militarily. Among the ranks of the Free Syrian Army and its branches, al Qaeda men are in charge, directly running operations."

In Damascus and other cities, the latest rebel offensive has pushed young people back the regime's fold, the sources explained. Students who once supported the opposition are disillusioned that the values of the Arab spring have been abandoned on the altar of sectarian strife between Alawites and Sunnis and the strategic interests of foreign nations.

Pro-Assad posts have appeared on Arabic social networks, especially after recent attacks against police stations, which have revived pro-regime propaganda.

For all intents and purposes, the country is already in a full-blown civil war, and no one is being spared. Some sources expect the conflict to escalate, now that Assad has called up everyone under the age of 40 for military service. Now can escape now.

According to the UN High Commission for refugees, the number of refugees in Turkey should jump from 93,500 to 280,000. In Iraq, they should go from 33,700 to 60,000; in Lebanon, from 80,800 to 120,000 and in Jordan from103,000 to 250,000.

Meanwhile, the London-based Syrian Human Rights Observatory said that from the information collected by its sources on the ground, at least 31,000 people have been killed so far, 22,000 of them civilians, including more than 2,000 children. (S.C.)

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