Syria’s refugees

Guest post by DaveM

With Assad’s bloody crackdown intensifying and the number of those killed steadily rising, Syrians are starting to flee their country, crossing into Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and bringing with them tales of unspeakable horror.

Al Arabiya

“So, they left their country, another addition to the steadily worsening situation in Syria. A slow moving wave of migration accompanied by a grave humanitarian situation, the most severe of which is in the besieged town of Daraa, which has been under siege by the army for the last couple of days. The army has also besieged other towns including Jabla and Banyas.

“On the borders with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon a number of Syrian civilians have left their homes seeking a safe haven fleeing from the bloody unrest. However most of them have ended up stuck at the border crossing points.

“More than 200 Syrian refugees have entered Turkey where the Turkish Red Crescent has begun to set up a camp at Rayhamia to accommodate them.

“The organization said that it’s currently setting up 50 tents to contain the refugees, the men, the women and the children. An official also confirmed that an additional 130 tents had been sent from Ankara to receive an influx of refugees, along with providing them with food and medical care.

“As for Jordan, it has declared that it’s prepared to receive Syrians fleeing their country. And the border town of ar-Ramtha is witnessing a number of [Syrian] workers stuck between ar-Ramtha and Daraa, too scared to go back.

“Eyewitnesses stated that there were intermittent calls with Daraa’s residents in which they were appealing to the people of ar-Ramtha to get human rights organisations in to help them, as the phone lines, electricity, and water have all been cut off. They were also calling for food, medicine and first aid as the shops were shut, as were the bakeries and it appears that Daraa is now totally cut off from the outside world.

“Syrian opposition websites have called on the citizens to carry food supplies and gather at the border with Jordan in an attempt to break the siege on Daraa.

[Child holds up sign which says “Daraa…. its children are without water, medicine and milk. They implore the world to break the siege enforced on the children and innocent people…..”]

“Rafaha Saad – Al Arabiya.”

CNN also reports from ar-Ramtha saying exactly the same thing as Al Arabiya.

On 28 April Syria’s news channel was claiming that black is white.

[Title: “Exploiting the issue of the border”]

“With the entry of units from the Syrian army into Daraa to restore security and calm to the town, television news stations have begun circulating exaggerations implying bad intentions being behind the Army’s entry into the town.

“Among these exaggerations was the announcement that the Syrian authorities have closed the border with Jordan. Syria immediately responded with a clear statement from the general manager of Customs and Excise in which he made it clear that the border crossings are open as normal.

“However the news stations continued putting forward the story that the border was closed, and did this as a way to discuss the Army’s entry into Daraa while ignoring it’s task of responding to Daraa’s citizens’ cries of help to confront the terrorist insurgency.

“The border crossing points with Jordan are open and there has been no change in that.
However the provocative news channels have exploited the creation of a story of the border being closed. They did this, one one hand to instigate and the other hand to distort the real meaning behind the army’s entry into Darra.”

In the north of the county the situation is similar, and the website Now Lebanon interviewed some of those who escaped the regime’s crackdown.

What they said was terrifying.

Tal Kalakh was to be raided by troops from the Forth Brigade, what the Syrians call the “moukhabarat al-jawiyeh” or the “air intelligence agents,” whom the refugee women say are a constant menace to the townspeople. “They always show up in the middle of the night out of nowhere with their helicopters and their tanks. They storm the town, go inside people’s houses at 4 a.m. looking for smuggled guns, although they know nobody would dare smuggle weapons into Syria, and they take the money and the gold,” a young woman bursts out. “They arrested the men in the town, they killed many of them. Half of our cemetery is young men’s graves. They put them in prison, and when they come home they’re not human beings anymore,” she shouts.

Nawal and the young woman say they have many relatives who were taken for alleged weapons smuggling by the Fourth Brigade, which is under the command of Maher al-Assad, the Syrian president’s brother. “We are Sunnis there, they are all Allawites. The fear is implanted in our hearts,” Nawal says. “I saw once with my own eyes, about a year ago, how they chased a young man, hit him with a rifle and asked him to pick a charge for himself. We never saw him again. His wife went looking for him, and they told her to forget about him.”

“I had a friend whom they hanged. They were looking for his brother for smuggling merchandise over the border, but they couldn’t find him. So they killed his brother instead. Look, this is him.” He shows us footage of a man in his 20s dancing at a party.

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