'We have to help them': Turks worry over Syrians

GUEVECCI, Turkey - Among low rolling hills and patches of sun-scorched earth, Turkey's Red Crescent refugee camps seem to appear out of nowhere: Rows upon rows of white tents encircled by tall steel fences and armed guards.

More than 8,000 Syrian refugees are now housed in five Red Crescent camps in Turkey's Hatay province, and a sixth camp, built to accommodate another 15,000 people, is underway. Red Crescent officials have estimated there are thousands more camped out near the Turkish border, many of whom are waiting to cross over.

Explosions were reported in three areas of Damascus. In Douma, a suburb in the hills outside Damascus, gunfire was reported around military checkpoints. Security forces attacked bases of defected soldiers in Daraa, with an unidentified number killed and injured. Heavy clashes between Syrian forces, rebels in Hama and in Idlib also took place, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“maximum restraint”

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon uselessly called for “maximum restraint,” international observers prepared to take to the streets of Damascus.

A member of Syria’s rubber-stamp parliament, Abdel Razzaq Yousef, announced his defection from the regime in this YouTube video . He cites the killing of civilians, including children, the use of weapons against unarmed protesters, the razing of citizens’ homes, leaving women and children in the streets and the total destruction of mosques as some of the reasons for defecting.

“This regime does not represent the people and is a dictatorship,” Yousef says, adding that “it has always blocked us from speaking in the parliament about events happening in Syria’s streets.” Syria is led by a “criminal regime,” and its only hope lies with the revolution, which Yousef says he is now a part of.

Caught on tape

Moroccan state television inadvertently caught on tape a man sitting among the worshippers at the King Hassan II mosque in Casablanca who suddenly rises up and rushes toward King Mohamed VI, who is about 20 feet away, to attack him.

The 30-second clip starts off in typical fashion for Arab state television, that is to say with an abundant serving of over-the-top rhetoric praising the great leader. In this case, it happens to be the king of Morocco, also known because of a supposed blood tie to the Prophet Mohamed as the Prince of All Believers.

As the shot pans across the crowd of male worshippers last Friday, with the king standing in the middle of them inside the mosque, the narrator says in a stentorian tone: “The Prince of All Believers is putting in place the building of an integrated community which each individual will undertake to do his best to live up to as is his duty. This is an act that will be ongoing by the Prince of All Believers who expends all his energy (HERE MAN LAUNCHES ATTACK) to safeguard his people, taking on this great responsibility…”

As the television narrator drones on, security agents fan out around the king and grab the offender in seconds. The man’s gesture may be notable in that it is perhaps the only spontaneous act on Moroccan state television for decades - and the TV presenter missed it.

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