Syrian jets attack rebel base near Turkey border

AMMAN Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:55pm IST

Free Syrian Army fighters perform their prayers on the outskirts of Aleppo November 20, 2012. Picture taken November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Maher al-Hur/Shaam News Network/Handout

Free Syrian Army fighters perform their prayers on the outskirts of Aleppo November 20, 2012. Picture taken November 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Maher al-Hur/Shaam News Network/Handout

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian war planes attacked a rebel headquarters near the Turkish border on Monday but appeared to miss their target, opposition activists in the region said.

"The (Free Syrian Army) joint command is located in a school. It seems they have missed it. There were two jets - one of them looked like a reconnaissance aircraft. They had been flying over the area for an hour," activist Mohammad Abdallah said.

They said a Turkish fighter was scrambled to the area. There was no immediate comment from Turkish authorities about the incident, which occurred in Atima village in hilly farmland across the border from Turkey's Hatay province.

Rebels fired anti-aircraft guns at the jets but they were flying too high to be hit, they said.

Turkey has requested that NATO surface-to-air missiles be stationed on its side of the border, angering Syria, but said on Monday they would only be used to protect Turkish territory and not to establish a no-fly zone.

Syrian jets have previously bombed rebel targets along the frontier but Monday's strike was one of the closest to the border, just two km (1.5 miles) from a Turkish gendarme compound and near a crossing point for Syrian refugees.

Another activist described how the planes were circling the area when they struck. The sound of what appeared to be rockets and explosions could be heard over the phone.

"They fired three rockets. It looks like that they hit nearby buildings. There are no reported casualties. It seems that the Free Syrian Army was expecting the air strike and had evacuated the area," he said.

Atima is the home village of Brigadier Mustafa al-Sheikh, a senior officer in the Free Syrian Army who moved operations there after staying at a camp on the Turkish side for months. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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