With the escalation of civil warfare in Syria, the flow of refugees heading across the border into Turkey is set to pick up. Some observers in southern Hatay Province, which is the destination for the bulk of the refugees, caution that the influx raises the specter of sectarian tension on the Turkish side of the border.
Over March 10-11, the Syrian military intensified operations in rebel-held areas in the north of Syria, not far from the border with Turkey. After two days of talks with President Bashar al-Assad, United Nations diplomatic trouble-shooter Kofi Annan arrived in Turkey on March 12 for talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Annan said he was “optimistic” about the chances for peace in Syria, but he left Damascus without a cease-fire agreement.
Annan had been scheduled to visit a refugee camp in Hatay, but, as of mid-afternoon on March 12, it remained unclear whether he would have time to do so.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.