More than 4,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey to escape a crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad and thousands more are sheltering near the border, officials and activists said on Saturday.
Meanwhile the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Saturday that despite the brutal crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad on
demonstrators, protests against him are only growing.
The paper quoted sources as saying "there is an air of intifada (popular resistance) in the streets."
According to human rights groups, Assad has stepped up his violent suppression of dissidents, and has resorted to siccing helicopter gunships on pro-democracy demonstrations; resulting in dozens of deaths.
Damascus crackdown on demonstrators takes even deadlier turn as Assad resorts to airstrikes; Syria tells Security Council interfering in its internal affairs 'would only aid terrorists'
Massive Syrian troops, as well as tanks, have been used against protesters regularly in the three months of unrest sweeping through Syria
Syria's state television, in contrast, blamed violence in the area on anti-government groups. It made no mention of attack helicopters but said an ambulance helicopter had come under fire over Maarat from "terrorist armed groups," injuring crew.
A senior Turkish diplomat said 4,300 Syrians, many of them from the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, had crossed the border and that Turkey was prepared for a further influx, though he declined to predict how many might come.
"Turkey welcomed a great many number of guests in the past in their times of most dire need. We can do that again," Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Halit Cevik was quoted as saying by state-run Anatolian news agency.
Refugees could be seen walking around the grounds of a camp at Boynuyogun where tents have been pitched inside an old hangar, and another camp at Yayladagi has been established in the grounds of a disused tobacco company.
Radikal newspaper said Turkey would establish a buffer zone if migrant inflows from Syria exceed 10,000.
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal have asked the UN Security Council to condemn Assad, though veto-wielding Russia has said it would oppose such a move.
Syria has warned the UN that the European draft resolution would only embolden "extremists and terrorists.
"It is important that the Security Council should not intervene in the internal affairs of Syria, which is a founding member of the United Nations," Moualem said Friday.
"We are quite certain that any resolution that is adopted by that body under any heading will only exacerbate the situation and send a message to those extremists and terrorists to the effect that the deliberate destruction that they are wreaking has the support of the Security Council," he said.
Elior Levy is Ynet's Palestinian affairs correspondent