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Syrian jets bomb rebel bases

Hundreds of fighter jets were sent fleeing when Syrian warplanes bombed two rebel bases near Turkey.

Syria flag. Picture: AFP

BUKULMEZ - Syrian warplanes bombed two rebel bases near the Turkish border on Monday sending hundreds of people fleeing across the frontier.

The attacks on the Free Syrian Army positions (FSA) in Atima and nearby Bab al-Hawa came a day before NATO and Ankara were due to start assessing where to station surface-to-air missiles on the Turkish side of the 900 km boundary.

Turkey, a big supporter of rebels fighting to oust Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, has repeatedly scrambled jets along the border.

It has also responded in kind when shells from the conflict have landed inside Turkey, underlining fears Syria's 20-month-old revolt could spread to destabilise the region.

Ankara has rejected Syrian complaints that the NATO Patriots were "provocative" and stressed they would be used only to defend Turkish territory, not to create a no-fly zone inside Syria that rebels have long demanded as a way to neutralise Assad's massive air power.

Syrian planes dropped around six bombs on a rebel base near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, said activists.

"There were lots of people injured ... I saw many wounded people on the border before I was brought here," FSA member Mahmoud Ahmad told Reuters after arriving in Turkey for treatment.

The attack also flattened tents being set up nearby for displaced people inside Syria by a Turkish charity, but no one was inside them at the time, Turkey's state-run Anadolu agency reported. Reuters television footage showed tattered shelters and a bomb crater near a line of tanks.

Two Syrian jets fired five rockets at an FSA base in Atima, around 2 km from the border, said opposition activist Ahmed, who lives nearby.

"Three have hit farm areas and another two hit buildings near the base."

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

"I think the reason for the raid may have something to do with increased weapons movements from Turkey," Ahmed said.

Several hundred Syrians fled into Turkey after the Atima raid and were being taken care of by the Turkish army.

The Turkish Anatolian news agency said an anti-aircraft shell fired during clashes in another Syrian border town, Harem, hit the roof of a house in the Turkish district of Reyhanli but caused no casualties.

Syrian rebels have been tightening their hold on farmland and urban centres to the east and northeast of Damascus, and have seized a string of military bases in the past 10 days.