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Syria Studding Refugee Routes With Mines

Human Rights Watch cites eyewitness near Turkey, Lebanon
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2012 7:04 AM CDT
Syria Studding Refugee Routes With Mines
Syrian refugees gather up before a walk outside their camp in Reyhanli, Turkey, Sunday, March 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Gaia Anderson)

(Newser) Earlier reports accused Syria of planting landmines along its Lebanese border, and according to witnesses, the practice shows no sign of waning. Mines are being placed along the routes refugees typically use to flee into neighboring Lebanon and Turkey, Human Rights Watch said today, citing eyewitness reports. One former Syrian Army deminer said he has removed around 300 from a route leading to Turkey this month, while a 15-year-old boy said he'd lost a leg while crossing into Lebanon. "I was less than [165-195 feet] away from the crossing border when the landmine exploded," he said; a friend he was helping to cross died.

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"Any use of anti-personnel landmines is unconscionable," said one Human Rights Watch official. "There is absolutely no justification for the use of these indiscriminate weapons by any country, anywhere, for any purpose." One BBC reporter in Turkey says he has seen refugees who are missing limbs because of the mines. Back in November, a Syrian official told the AP that they were using "many measures to control the borders, including planting mines." Syria is not a signatory to the 1997 Ottawa treaty banning landmines. (Read more Syria stories.)

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