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5 Syrians mourned in Turkey as deadly fighting rages across the border

From Yesim Comert, CNN
updated 10:31 AM EDT, Sun August 5, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Five Syrian rebels are buried together near a camp in Turkey
  • The fighters were killed in a house in their sleep, relatives say
  • Syria says it is fighting "terrorists"

Yayladagi, Turkey (CNN) -- More than 200 Syrians who have fled their country gathered in a Turkish cemetery on a hot afternoon, awaiting the bodies of five people killed for a cause they all shared.

Men stood at the entrance, chanting prayers and slogans against the Syrian regime, while in another part of the cemetery women and children wept.

The funeral Saturday in Yayladagi marked just some of the latest deaths of rebel Free Syrian Army fighters. According to their relatives at a refugee camp in the area near the Syrian border, the five were killed inside a house in their sleep by Syrian security forces in Idlib Province.

These fighters escaped Syria with their families, arriving at a camp in Turkey. Turkey does not consider them refugees.

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The fighters then left their families behind to re-enter Syria and continue the fighting.

After they were killed, the Free Syrian Army brought their bodies back across the border to their loved ones.

More than 30 Syrians have been buried in the cemetery in Yayladagi since the conflict began last year. But Saturday marked the first time five were buried in one day: Saleh Hamid, Tarif Bagil, Gazi Bagil, Mohammad Dakka, and Mohammad Mershan.

When the five wooden coffins arrived, the crowd helped carry them into the cemetery. They chanted slogans against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Among those in the crowd were people wounded in the Syrian conflict.

After funeral prayers, the bodies were buried in five graves near each other.

Women and children covered the surface of the graves with myrtle branches, a tradition among Syrians in the area.

The crowd then departed, heading back to the camp, as deadly violence continued to rage across the border.

The Syrian regime insists it is fighting "terrorists" backed by foreign governments.

CNN cannot independently confirm specific reports of violence because the Syrian government severely restricts access by journalists.

The United Nations has said about 17,000 people have been killed in what the Red Cross declares to be a civil war in Syria. Opposition activists put the toll at more than 20,000.

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