Monday, 1 February 2016

'No place to go': Refugees risk freezing to death to flee from Syrian army

 'Hundreds of people at the refugee camp at Yamadi, close to the border with Turkey, are loading their belongings onto trucks and heading deeper into rebel-held territory after pro-government forces regained control of a series of strategically placed towns.

 “We don’t want to live under the rule of the government for a minute. They have no mercy on us. If they catch you then it’s the end for you,” Umm Asim told Middle East Eye as she prepared to flee with her family amid fears that one or two more nights of heavy fighting could bring Syrian army tanks rolling down the road.

 “We are trying to leave because the government is getting closer and the Russians have done nothing good. We get shelled from one side and bombed on the other side and we are afraid. My little son doesn’t eat and he doesn't move because he is so afraid.”

 “I’m afraid for my children,” added Umm Marwan. “We are leaving because of the planes and because the children are so afraid. The army is getting closer and the planes are constantly shelling us. We want to leave and find a new place to stay.”

 Russia is accused of killing hundreds of civilians since intervening in Syria last September on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by launching air strikes in rebel-held territory.

 In November, Russian jets bombed camps including Yamadi in the Turkmen Mountain region of northern Latakia that had become refuges for Syrians fleeing from war-shattered cities, including long-besieged Homs and Aleppo, and Ariha in Idlib province.

 The bombardment came after a Russian jet crashed in the area after being shot down by Turkey for reportedly violating Turkish air space, with local rebels accusing Moscow of taking revenge.

 “The Russians came to kill the Syrian people. It’s a massacre, they use planes, tanks and missiles,” said Umm Asim. “Where do we go? If we go to the villages they bomb us, if we go elsewhere… where do we go?” '

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