Hundreds of activists in a "Freedom Convoy" who tried to enter Syria from Turkey
Hundreds of activists in a "Freedom Convoy" who tried to enter Syria from Turkey wave the pre-Baath flag adopted by the Syrian anti-regime opposition before being stopped at a border crossing outside the city of Kilis. © Frederic Lafargue - AFP
Hundreds of activists in a
AFP
Last updated: March 15, 2012

"Freedom Convoy" blocked at Syrian-Turkish border

Hundreds of activists in a "Freedom Convoy" who tried to enter Syria from Turkey were stopped near the border on Thursday, as the uprising against the Damascus regime entered its second year.

Turkish police stopped hundreds of mostly Syrian activists as they approached a border crossing outside the city of Kilis, but they escorted a small delegation of organisers in two cars to the post.

But at the crossing, the organisers were prohibited from entering Syria, one of them told AFP.

"The only answer we got was 'No way, never!'," said Moayad Skaif.

The activists -- in a convoy of three buses and 30 cars decorated with flags and loudspeakers -- said they were trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Syrians suffering after a year of bloodshed.

"Our goal is to put pressure in our way on the Syrian government to stop its massacres and its embargo on its own people," Skaif said.

He said the aid, including tents, sleeping bags, toiletries, food and beverages, would now be offered to Syrian refugees in Turkey.

A previous attempt by the Freedom Convoy to enter Syria from Turkey, which is home to a growing number of Syrians fleeing the unrest, was also blocked in January.

More than 9,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the outbreak of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's regime one year ago, human rights monitors said on Thursday.

Following the Syrian army assault in the Baba Amr neighbourhood of Homs and in the rebel stronghold Idlib, the number of Syrians arriving at the border has escalated sharply.

Close to 15,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey's Hatay province, where Syrian army deserters resisting the regime's crackdown also have a base, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

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