Families left without food as troops strike

Syrian troops combing through restive villages near the Turkish border set fire to homes and a bakery yesterday, cutting off a lifeline to thousands of uprooted people stranded in miserable open-air encampments.

Activists said the military carried out mass arrests and threw up checkpoints in the village of Bdama and surrounding areas to block residents from fleeing across the frontier.

Turkey, whose leaders have denounced the Damascus regime's deadly crackdown on dissent, began distributing food to those encamped on the Syrian side of the border, in the first such aid mission since the campaign against anti-government protesters turned into a refugee crisis two weeks ago. People were collecting food at the border to take to stranded relatives.

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