2 Nov 2012 #Syria : Eastern Al-Bweda Escape from Death to Death Massacre (Eng sutitles)
Prisoners of their homeland’s conflict, Syrian refugees have been crammed for weeks in shelters in a border village just meters away from the Turkish border waiting for a green light to cross.
In and around rebel-controlled Atme in northern Syria, thousands are stranded in schools and tents hoping to join refugees living for the past year in camps on the Turkish side of the border.
Forgotten by both Syrian and international aid organizations, they rely on the generosity of local families and volunteers.
Ahmed Najjar, who worked as a builder in Al-Dana, 40 kilometers from Atma, had stay cloistered in his home with his family for a month before witnessing the death of a neighbor as the shells landed closer.
He decided to pack a few carpets and blankets and fled towards Turkey, already home to some 83,000 registered refugees and which has said it can handle no more than 100,000 refugees.
“It’s been 31 days since we came here,” said the 41-year-old as he heated water on a wood fire. “Every day they tell us ‘tomorrow, tomorrow’, and we never enter Turkey.”
“The nights have become cold, the children are getting sick. How long will we stay here?”
Turkish soldiers, deployed on a hilltop post, partially open the gates for a limited number of refugees, based on their country’s capacity which has reached its limit pending the construction of new camps.
Some days, the soldiers call over 20 people, check their IDs and ferry them away in trucks. Sometimes, it can be several hundreds.
“You never know in advance,” said Ihab, a 28-year-old mathematics teacher in charge of securing food supplies for the refugees.
“When they let many families in, the news spreads and people begin flocking into the area from different places, all of whom need to be fed.”
Villagers welcome friends and relatives as the number of people in every house grows to as many as 20 or 30, crowded together. A tent camp for around 500 people is planned in Atme.
Nearly 200 families are packed into a school where classrooms have been emptied for women and children to shelter, while the men sleep in the yard.
In the kitchen, four large stoves are used to cook rice in giant pots. Water, cut off for the past two months, is drawn from wells and stored in tanks for use whenever electricity is available for pumping – which is not often.
During the early months of the conflict, refugees did not stay long in Atme as they were able to cross to Turkey easily, said one young local man. “But since Turkey stopped taking in large numbers, they’ve become dependent on us.”
“If we knew anyone in Turkey, we would have gone there secretly,” said 45-year-old Omar, who has camped for over a month under a tent made of a carpet stretched between two desks.
“But this isn’t the case. And the truck that drove us here cost us all the money we had.”
Samiha, a 42-year-old mother, was alone with her seven children, among them two veiled teenage girls who turned their heads to any stranger.
“If the Turks let us in, we would remain there until the fall of the regime which bombs and kills us,” said Samiha.
“Our village, Daret Azzeh, was hit by rockets, bombs, and planes. I didn’t know how to calm the children. At least it’s quiet here.”
Thousands have fled to Turkey since fierce fighting erupted in Syria’s commercial capital Aleppo in mid-July between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.
More than 30,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in violence since the outbreak of the revolt against Assad in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
#Syrians taking shelter in
On the ground - towns in Aleppo Province are coming under heavy shelling.
Many of the people fleeing the violence are making their way to the town of Reef Idlib - and finding shelter in schools.
Iraqi town faces refugees, gun-runners, Syrian jets
* Syrians rely on Iraqi kin for help across border
* Baghdad government worries about insurgents returning
By Patrick Markey
AL QAIM, Iraq, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Syrian refugees squeeze against a closed gate at an Iraqi border post, reaching through its metal bars to clamour for water, and calling out to Iraqi cousins and brothers on the other side.
Yelling into their cellphones, more Syrians perch on top of the concrete walls that divide Iraq from Syria, waiting for Iraqis to unload trucks filled with boxes of cooking oil and bottled water and hoist them over the al Qaim checkpoint.
Close by, predominantly Sunni Syrian rebels are fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces over the town of Albu Kamal, bringing the war to al Qaim with refugees, Syrian jets and occasional rocket attacks.
Al Qaim, in the Sunni heartland of Anbar province, reflects the tricky balancing act Iraq’s Shi’ite leaders face in Syria, whose crisis is testing the Middle East’s sectarian divide.
Many Shi’ite politicians took refuge in Syria during the rule of Saddam Hussein, and Assad, who is Alawite, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, is backed by Shi’ite Iran while Sunni power Saudi Arabia supports the rebels.
Iraq’s leaders dismiss claims they support Assad, but they also fear a nightmare scenario: his downfall brings a hostile Sunni Muslim regime to power and emboldens disenchanted Sunnis in Iraq’s own fragile sectarian mix.
In Anbar, where tribal ties are strong, discontent over Baghdad’s stance on the Syrian crisis is growing. Many have already chosen their side.
“When you have cousins here, it is a matter just of luck whether they are Iraqi or Syrian,” said Emad Hammoud, a government worker in al Qaim. “In Syria, it’s a fight of a government against its people, and we are with the people.”
Al Qaim and its neighbouring Syrian counterpart Albu Kamal are on a strategic supply route for smugglers, gun-runners and now insurgents aiming to join the rebellion.
Just a few years ago the traffic went the other way: Sunni Islamist bombers crossed into Iraq to fight against the American occupation and refugees fled to Syria to avoid sectarian slaughter.
Though still wary of Islamist insurgents, Baghdad’s Shi’ite-led central government initially opened the border to Syria’s refugees after the conflict started 18 months ago.
But Albu Kamal has since been overrun by anti-Assad Free Syrian Army rebels and the number of refugees has grown, prompting authorities to lock al Qaim’s crossing. Army brigades now reinforce the frontier, marked by 2-metre metal fence.
Iraqi residents send food, water and medical supplies to pass over the gate at al Qaim, where around 200 to 300 Syrian refugees arrive daily seeking shelter or supplies from relatives before heading back home.
“This is not help from the state, this is from clerics and from the people,” said one local Iraqi government official at the crossing, who was not authorised by Baghdad to speak publicly about the refugees.
After Saddam fell in 2003, many members of his outlawed Baath party fled into Syria. Baghdad often criticised Damascus for sheltering al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and former Baathists who used Syria as a haven to attack American troops in Iraq.
But Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who took refuge in Iran and Syria during Saddam’s era, has since developed a pragmatic relationship with Assad. Baghdad abstained in an Arab League vote to suspend Syria and resists calls for Arab sanctions, urging reforms instead.
In August last year he hosted Syrian ministers, calling Iraq and Syria “brother” nations.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari alluded to fears of what could follow if Assad is overthrown.
“The flow of refugees, the entrenchment of terrorist organisations, the veil of a fundamentalist regime, all this could impact us,” Zebari told Reuters. “We are trying to take a independent position. Based on our national interests… Things are not black and white.”
At tribal meetings across Anbar, talk is now of Syria’s crisis and how they can help their Sunni Syrian brethren.
Anbar’s tribes turned against al Qaeda to help U.S. forces in 2006. But since the rise of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority, many Sunnis say they are alienated. Local sheikhs feel sidelined by a prime minister who they say wants to consolidate Shi’ite power.
A fragile government amoung Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish parties has been mired in crisis as Sunnis accuse Maliki of reneging on power-sharing deals.
“Iraq will face a storm,” Sheikh Hatim Salaiman, chieftain of one of Anbar’s largest tribes told Reuters. “In a few months, Syria’s crisis will likely end. And what comes next will be difficult for Iraq.”
Al Qaim is already struggling with spillover from the fighting in Syria.
Syria military jets fly over Iraqi airspace almost daily to make bombing runs on rebel positions just over the border, al Qaim’s mayor Farhan Ftaikhan says, and most nearby Syrian border posts have been abandoned by Syrian forces.
Beyond the frontier, the main border checkpoint on the Syrian side sits empty.
On one wall, the Free Syrian Army flag, with its three red stars, is painted over a portrait of Assad’s late father, Hafez. Bullet holes cratering the wall partially obliterate his face.
Gunshots that pockmark the concrete wall of another border post are evidence of the more regular clashes between Iraqi border troops and gunmen on the Syrian side.
Earlier this month, Free Syrian Army rebels fired on Iraqi troops trying to stop four vehicles carrying weapons into Syria. Iraqi troops responded with mortar and canon fire, one Iraqi military official said.
For now, al Qaim’s mayor says, the border is closed for technical reasons, as local authorities wait to complete more camps with a capacity to deal with 10,000 refugees.
Outside the town, around 2,000 refugees who managed to cross the border before it was closed are housed in white tents. A similar number are put up with relatives or local residents.
The violence is growing. Three times now, Syrian rockets have landed on al Qaim, the most recently less than a fortnight ago, when three Katyushas hit a residential neighgbourhood, killing a small Iraqi girl and wounding some of her family.
It was unclear who fired them, the Syrian army or the rebels. But al Qaim residents know they will not be the last.
“I thought it was one of the Syrian planes we hear overhead. Then we heard the rocket coming at us,” said Firas Attallah, the girl’s father. “This is the price we pay, just for the help we are sending, for the food and medicine we send.”
#Syria, First video of the massacre in #Damascus, #Daraya.
Heinous massacre collective hands of the Assad regime gangs in a shelter in the mosque of Abu Suleiman Aldarani in the tribal region of Darya rose more than 150 martyrs of innocent civilians! In a brutal campaign carried out by criminal gangs on the city
One group of families were put up in a room in a chicken farm with no windows as there was no other accommodation for them. Thanks to the continued generosity of our donors we were able to deliver food parcels to 106 families in need. Our team member’s report and photos are below.
First we got the addresses of the 6 families who had been at the chicken farm. They would receive a large aid package containing: Oil, 3kgs of lentils, 3 kgs of sugar, 1 kg of salt, 4 cheese packets, 3kgs of rice, 3 tuna fish, 3 tins of beans, 1.8 kgs of milk, 4 packets of spaghetti, 3 tins of chick peas, a large bottle of tomato paste, 1 kg of tea, and jam. Each of these parcels cost $34.
Once the orders were made, and the food picked up we started to make deliveries, leaving food with 16 families on our way to Irsaal, where we were due to meet another member of the team. It was late when we got there, with no light or electricity. We met with our friend, and discussed visiting a field hospital in the morning if it was possible, and our planned delivery of bread, dates and soup to Homs. As the road was closed due to shelling, it was not safe to visit the hospital. We agreed to talk the next day, and then said goodbye and returned to Fakiha.
In the morning we set off to make more deliveries, first to 3 families living together from Zrariye, Homs. They received us with tears in their eyes, and were very happy that people outside were concerned about them.
On the way back I heard a strange conversation between the driver, who was from Hemel (a hezbollah town), and his companion, who was pro-regime.
They were talking about about the revolutionaries, and about why it is hard to kill them. I asked why, and the driver said ‘because they are taking pills’, I wanted to say that it is because they had faith in their cause, but I decide to be quiet, and just listened to their conversation.
I was relieved to get to Beirut, stepped off the bus, and did not look back. I went home feeling lucky to be safe, and thinking of the lovely families I met earlier.
Report by Syrian Assistance team member, Lebanon
Australia is giving a further $5 million in humanitarian relief aid to Syria.
Speaking after the Friends of Syria meeting in Paris on Friday (AEST), Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Syria’s internal conflict had reached a “tipping point”.
More than 10,000 people have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands are in urgent need of aid.
“Australia has taken a lead in calling for a unified international response to end the bloodshed,” Senator Carr said in a statement on Sunday.
“But we must also act to address the humanitarian crisis, with medical supplies, food and shelter.”
The additional $5 million in aid will bring Australia’s total contribution to $16 million.
The funds will support non-government organisations providing medical aid in Syria’s conflict zones and will assist the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which helps the growing number of Syrians fleeing their country.
In this Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and accessed on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, a market is seen destroyed from Syrian government forces shelling, at Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province, Syria. An opposition group says several people have been killed in heavy shelling of a district in central Syria a day after the army sent reinforcements ahead of a possible ground assault. (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria)
By Mariam Karouny
BEIRUT, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Struggling to survive after two weeks of withering bombardment by Syrian forces, people in the Baba Amro district of Homs are packed four or five families to a house, relying on collected rain water and watching their wounded friends and relatives die for lack of medicines, residents say.
Some say starvation is a real threat and accuse the world of abandoning them to army shelling which they say has killed dozens of people and wounded 2,000 in the rebel stronghold of an 11-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
With no chance to flee, many families have abandoned their houses on the outskirts and retreated further into the heart of the battered neighbourhood in the central western city of Homs, cramming dozens of people into small houses and apartments.
Those who survive the shelling face shortages of food and water which they say have been deliberately aggravated by government snipers shooting at water tanks. They are terrified to leave their homes and shelters.
“We are collecting rain water in jars and casseroles,” said Abu Bakr, a resident of Baba Amro sheltering with 25 people in a two-room house.
“We take turns in sleeping — some during the day and others during the night because we do not have enough space,” he said.
Women who recently gave birth are unable to feed their babies because their breast milk has dried up from shock, he said. “Some women have volunteered to breast feed those babies but until when? Their lives are in danger.”
The shelling destroyed many houses in the poor neighbourhood of 80,000 people and the few field hospitals erected months ago are in ruins, activists say. At least two doctors and two nurses were killed in the shelling, leaving Baba Amro with just two or three doctors, they say.
“FRIENDS AND RELATIVES DYING”
Some houses were turned into makeshift hospitals but the lack of medical supplies and staff mean there is little help for the wounded.
“We are watching the wounded die. All we are doing is using pieces of clothes to cover their wounds then watch them die,” said another resident of Baba Amro, who declined to be named.
“We have lost many people and every day we have friends and relatives dying before our eyes, there is nothing we can do.”
The government says it is fighting armed militants intent on overthrowing Assad who are funded and armed from abroad while the residents say the crackdown is aimed at crushing pro-democracy protesters and those opposed to Assad.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Reuters that it was negotiating with Syrian authorities and opposition fighters on a “cessation of fighting” to bring life-saving aid to civilians hardest hit by the conflict.
Diplomatic sources said the ICRC was seeking a two-hour halt of hostilities in hotspots including Homs, a major industrial centre and Syria’s third largest city, next to Damascus and Aleppo.
In some areas of Homs, the Free Syrian Army rebels set up checkpoints to try and block access to soldiers and Shabbiha militia loyal to Assad.
In Baba Amro, where many residents are farmers and traders, the massed troops on the outskirts of the district mean farmers are prevented from harvesting their crops.
“If people do not die of the shelling they will die of starvation soon,” said an activist, who used the name Marx.
FOOD SUPPLIES DWINDLING
Markets are closed after running out of supplies and residents are living on supplies of pickled eggplants, olives and dried bread. Vegetables and meat have become a luxury, residents said. Phone lines and Internet are cut off.
When at least 217 people were killed in a shelling on Homs’s Khalidiya district earlier this month, activists in nearby Baba Amro said their neighborhood would be next and they took measures to ensure the outside world could see.
Activists have broadcast live footage and uploaded hundreds of videos of graphic footage on YouTube showing the intensity of shelling, destruction, death and wounded people.
But they still feel they have failed to draw the world’s attention. Foreign powers have yet to take measures to stop the killings, they say, or even allow safe passages to evacuate women and children and the critically wounded.
“The world has abandoned us, we are alone and we do not count, nobody cares what happens to us,” said Ahmad.
Anger is also rising against the Syrian opposition, who residents say have stood by and watched the slaughter.
“We feel that the opposition has let us down … Everybody is fooling us and using us for their own interests and we are the ones paying the price,” Marx said.
Khaled Abu Salah, an activist in Baba Amro, sent a distress call to the main opposition group the Syrian National Council, comparing his city’s suffering to the violent suppression of a 1982 Islamist uprising in Hama, when forces loyal to Assad’s father killed at least 10,000 people.
“We are being bombarded and we are dying. We are living the 80s with all its scenarios and until now you have done nothing,” he said in a YouTube video, standing in front of a shelled house.
“We hold you fully responsible. The people said that the SNC represent us and the people will delegitimise you (if you do nothing),” he said. (Editing by Dominic Evans and Peter Millership)
*PLEASE SHARE & RT* | Homs, #Syria: Schools are now places of shelter after resident homes were randomly shelled and destroyed in Rastan 18/2/2012
“A tour made in one of Al Rastan schools. This is the first family: “We are a family of six members. What happened to you?
The first family: The army bombarded our neighborhood with 4 or 5 missiles. More than 100 people were killed. The wounded people’s situation is terrible.
Speaker: “How are you managing with food supplies?”
-“The young men here are supporting us with every mean they can”
Speaker: “Do you have any arrested family members?”
- “We have 3 cousins who are arrested”
Speaker: “Do you know with which kind of weapons you were bombarded?”
The second family: we are 15 members, most of us are children. Buildings collapsed in our neighborhoods. The weapons which kill the Syrian people are Russian made. We have close relatives who are arrested. They said the assad issued amnesty. The only amnesty was for his thugs. We demand the Arab and international countries to support the Free Syrian Army.
We demand that the Free Syrian Army would be supported.
Third family: a missile hit our house. We are a family of 6 members. The humanitarian situation in Al Rastan is terrible. The missile hit the water tank. They are bombarding us with heavy artillery. We ran away from our house looking like this.”
Speaker: “why don’t you give the president a chance for reforms?”
-“Give him a chance!? All the Syrian people will be killed by then. Assad is bombarding us with Russian weapons”
Speaker: “What do you think of Russia and Russian government? “
“We demand Russia to stop supporting the Syrian regime. We appeal to the Russian people to not to vote for the current Russian government”
Speaker: “what do you think of the Free Syrian Army, do you consider them as vandalisers? “
“The Free Syrian Army is our protector, without them we would have been slaughtered”