In Turkish Border Town, Chaos and Anger at Syrian Refugees after Twin Bombs Blasts

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman, this is The World. President Obama discussed Syria today with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron. The two leaders are looking for a way to negotiate an end to Syria's civil war, perhaps with Russia's help. And as Obama made clear at a joint press conference, that would include forcing out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Barack Obama: If in fact uh we can broker a peaceful political transition that leads to Assad's departure, but a state in Syria that is still in tact, that accommodates the interests of all the ethnic groups, all the religious groups inside of Syria and that ends the bloodshed, stabilizes the situation, that's not just gonna be good for us, that'll be good for everybody.

Werman: But Obama cautioned that enormous challenges remain. One of them is the seemingly endless bloodshed in Syria and sometimes in neighboring countries. Over the weekend two car bombs went off in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli, where thousands of Syrian refugees have settled. Forty-six people were killed. The BBC's Wyre Davies visited Reyhanli after the blasts. He says the heart of this market town has been ripped out.

Wyre Davies: Dozens of buildings were destroyed and the human cost is huge. The financial cost to the town is also massive. There are dozens if not hundreds of destroyed businesses. Please have been cleaning up or trying to cleanup the mess for the last two days, but as I say, the heart has really been ripped out of the town. These were massive car bombs.

Werman: And how big a town is Reyhanli?

Davies: It's about 30,000 local Turks, but of course what's happened over the last couple of years is that the number of Syrian refugees has really increased the size of towns, not just Reyhanli itself, but other neighboring towns. What's happened here is that a lot of people, yes, they've gone into refugee camps, but many, many more Syrians have gone to live in towns, especially those with a little bit of money and jobs. So about 25,000 Syrians have now almost doubled the size of the town of Reyhanli and that is a cause of tension in itself. Before the bombings the Syrians were accepted in communities, especially those who brought money and could work, but ironically, in the last couple of days since the bombings, that has changed completely. We spoke to Syrians today who haven't left their houses for the last few days. Their cars have been smashed up because they carry Syrians plates. And even though many of the Turks in town clearly sympathize with their plight inside Syria, they're angry because they say it's the influx of Syria refugees to their town that has made their town a target for car bombings.

Werman: Well, I mean as for blame, some fingers have been pointed at Assad's secret service in Damascus. They deny it. Why would they be suspected?

Davies: A) This is their modus operandi, the Syrian agents in Lebanon in particular are known to favor big car bombs like this. It's a way the regime sadly has taken out its opponents over the years. I think the Turks believe they have evidence that Syrian agents inside Turkey, probably Turkish Nationals, are responsible for the bombing. They say they've arrested nine people. I don't think many people doubt that this was the work of the Assad regime. It has clearly had a destabilizing effect in Turkey. If that was the intention, it has certainly worked.

Werman: Wyre, can you just sum up what is Turkey's relationship to the war in Syria at this point?

Davies: Well, Turkey, of course, and Syria were once very close allies, but Turkey, I think, when they saw the level of atrocities, when they saw the level that the Assad regime was in a very brutal manner dealing with the uprising that began over two years ago now, the Turks felt they simply couldn't standby. And Turkey has taken a position, which is incredibly critical of the Assad regime. It has been housing political and military opponents of the regime, but people are asking what is Turkey gonna do next? And I simply don't have the answer. There's very little appetite in Turkey, even amongst government supporters to intervene formerly, militarily against the Assad regime because that would lead to a big regional war. But I don't think Turkey is either going to withdraw its political and logistical support for the opponents of the regime, so that's the big issue—what does Turkey do now? And I'm not sure that the Turkish government has got the answer right now.

Werman: The BBC's Mideast correspondent, Wyre Davies, thanks very much.

Davies: Thank you.