Syrian refugees in Turkey down to 10,700

ISTANBUL, June 28, 2011 (AFP) - The number of Syrian refugees taking shelter in tent cities in Turkey has decreased to 10,757 after several hundred people turned back home, Turkish officials said Tuesday.

"On June 27-28, 441 of those who had crossed to our country returned home of their own free will, while another 76 Syrian citizens were admitted in," the emergency situations agency of the prime minister's office said on its website.

The statement said 53 people, including 12 with gunshot wounds, remained in hospital.

The Turkish authorities continue to provide food to those who remain camping in squalid conditions on the Syrian side of the border, it added.

On Saturday, the head of the Syrian Red Crescent called on refugees to return home, insisting that they would not face retribution or interrogation, Anatolia news agency reported.

"We, as the Red Crescent, guarantee that the Syrian government will not call (the refugees) to account and under no circumstances will security forces take decisions about them," Abdurrahman Attar told Turkish reporters in Damascus, according to Anatolia.

Some 1,500 people poured into Turkey last Thursday in one of the largest single waves so far after Syrian troops backed by tanks entered a border zone where thousands fleeing a bloody crackdown on anti-regime protesters had massed but hesitated to cross to Turkey.

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