GUVECCI, Turkey—They are the fortunate ones, the hundreds of Syrian refugees fleeing their government's violent crackdown who have reached the Turkish border.
Some made it along rural roads, carrying nothing but a few possessions, perhaps a spare set of clothes. After crossing through openings in the barbed-wire fence, they have boarded buses for settlement in a makeshift tent camp, or, if recovering from gunshot wounds, to the public hospital.
Others who have escaped have found shelter with Turkish relatives, friends or business partners.
But some did not reach the fence. They were shot dead by Syrian security forces as they made their way over the mountainous folds toward the border less than 10 miles from the besieged city of Jisr Shughur, or succumbed to wounds inflicted back in town.
And then there are those who remain holed up at home, too afraid or proud to leave.
"My family and I were able to get here safely," said Ahmad Abdullah, a 35-year-old trader and father of five who sneaked into Turkey and found shelter with acquaintances in this tiny border hamlet. "But many friends from Jisr Shughur were not as lucky.
"We demonstrated to ask for democracy," Abdullah reflected Thursday. "We held olive branches in our hands. But we were met with live ammunition."
Syrian refugees have been crossing the Turkish border in droves this week, escaping Syrian security forces who they say have shot or detained and tortured peaceful protesters in Jisr Shughur, a town of 50,000, and nearby villages.
Residents say Syrian soldiers refused orders a week ago to open fire on demonstrators demanding democratic change. The government, they say, responded by sending in loyal forces who shot dozens of soldiers and residents.
Syrian state television has shown of dead soldiers who it alleges — to the doubt of independent observers monitoring Syria's months-long uprising — were victims of "armed groups" who stole military vehicles and uniforms.
Syrian forces have massed tanks and armored vehicles in and around Jisr Shughur, sending thousands fleeing in fear into the countryside and to Turkey, a former ally of Syrian President Bashar As sad.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at least 2,400 Syrians had crossed into Turkey to flee the violence. Refugees and aid officials said thousands more remained trapped on the Syr ian side.
Although Syrian citizens can enter Turkey without visas, many crossing the border are relatively poor laborers and farmers lacking passports who must cross illegally.