Syrian violence increasingly draws in Turkey, Lebanon

Dec 03, 2012, 5:40 AM EST
In this Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 file photo, Syrian fighters stand on a tank they took after storming a military base in Aleppo.
(AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Syria on Monday bombed a security building that had been taken over by rebels on the Turkish border, wounding at least 11 people and sending dozens of civilians fleeing across the frontier, a Turkish official said.

A day earlier, Lebanese soldiers exchanged fire with Syrian rebels across their border, media reports said, fueling concerns that the Arab Spring's longest and deadliest revolt could spark a regional war.

The violence came as Russian President Vladimir Putin headed to Turkey for talks likely to be overshadowed by the two countries' differences over Syria.

Since the uprising against the authoritarian regime of President Bashar Assad began in March 2011, the fighting between Syrian rebels and regime troops has spilled into neighboring countries on several occasions, including Turkey, Israel and Lebanon, Syria's particularly vulnerable neighbor.

An official from the mayor's office in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar said a Syrian jet targeted a security building that has been taken over by the rebels, dropping two bombs on an area some 300 meters (yards) from the Turkish border.

Turkish ambulances rushed to the border and least 11 wounded Syrians were brought to Ceylanpinar's hospital for treatment, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish government rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.

Television footage from Turkey's Anadolu agency showed a large plume of smoke rising over the town, and dozens of Syrian civilians were also seen fleeing into Turkey after crossing through a barbed wire fence at the border.

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said late Sunday that Lebanese soldiers stationed near the village of Qaa in the Bekaa Valley returned fire into Syria after "armed men" shot at them from across the frontier.

The agency quoted a statement from the Lebanese army that said the exchange of fire took place Sunday and that there were no casualties.

During talks with Putin in Istanbul, Turkey is expected to press the Russian leader to stop backing Assad's regime. The Kremlin, however, has shown no inclination to relinquish its support for its last Middle East ally, whom it has shielded from international sanctions and continued to provide with weapons amid the escalating civil war.