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Turkish premier visits border town hit by twin car bombings

Erdogan addressed crowds in southern town of Reyhanli near the Syrian border, the scene of the May 11 double car bomb blasts, killing 51 people

25.05.2013
Turkish premier visits border town hit by twin car bombings

REYHANLI
 
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday visited Turkey's southern town of Reyhanli where twin car bombings killed 51 people including Syrian nationals, and wounded many others two weeks ago.

Erdogan's visit in Reyhanli follows his US trip last week which came in the aftermath of the twin blasts, the deadliest spillover of violence in Syria amid fears that the more than two-year-old war could ignite an all-out conflict in the region.

"Those who are trying to protect their own posts and continue their dictatorships are now harassing our peace in Turkey [...] But these days will pass and with God's willing, the day is near for the opposition forces in Syria to topple this dictator," Erdogan told the crowds.

Once a close ally of Damascus, Turkey has turned against the Assadregime as Syria unleashed a violent crackdown on dissidents protesting for more democracy in the Arab country. What began as peaceful demonstrations in March 2011 has quickly morphed into a war which has so far killed more than 80,000 people and displaced nearly 6.3 million others.

Turkey has allowed its territory to be used as a logistics and organizing base for rebel forces and political groups seeking the ouster of the Syrian president. The country is also home to more than 300,000 Syrian shelter seekers, nearly 25 thousand of whom took refuge in Reyhanli town.

"You should that they [Syrian refugees] are here because they have trusted us. We will embrace our Syrian brothers and sisters and we will not allow anyone to sow seeds of hatred among us. I believe when the day comes and peace is restored in Syria our brethren here will return to their homes," Erdogan said.

Turkish security forces have detained nine people -- all Turkish nationals -- in the connection with the May 11 blasts which Turkish officials have blamed on a former Marxist terrorist organization with "direct links" to groups and intelligence services loyal to the Assad regime.

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