by: JULIAN RÖPCKE, MOHAMMAD RABIE AND BJÖRN STRITZELpublished on
02/18/2020 – 05:05 p.m.
Three million Syrians in Idlib are literally running out of time. Assad’s murderous troops are advancing ever closer. The Russian Air Force is constantly targeting new cities. Their life, they believe, can only save one thing – fleeing to Europe.
That is why Syrian activists have now announced one last desperate move to escape death. On Friday they want to storm the Syrian-Turkish border to flee Idlib.
On posters hanging in the last cities of the opposition, they call on people to march towards the border together if the weapons are not silent by Friday.
The text on the poster translated into German:
Break through the wall
Crossing into European countries
If the bombings in Idlib are not stopped by this Friday, we will break through and cross the wall on the Turkish border and then continue to flee via Turkey. To our people in the still free areas: Be ready and pack what is necessary for it.
Doctor Marwan Khoury from the Bavarian aid organization “BARADA Syria Aid” explained to BILD the action of internally displaced people in northwestern Syria. “The people in Idlib are trying to storm the Turkish border to come to Europe.” The reason for this is that the local activists “see Europe as an obligation to protect people. But the world community has turned its back on the Syrians. That is why people now want to go to Europe ”.
Khoury emphasized that people only “want to live in safety, that’s what it’s about. People no longer want to be bombed, they just want to live in peace. ”
Hundreds of Syrians demonstrated at the Turkish border under the motto “From Idlib to Berlin” at the beginning of February. “We are exposed to a daily Holocaust by the Assad regime, Putin and Iran,” a spokesman for the organizers told BILD. “Our homes, marketplaces and hospitals are bombed and we are sold. If nobody stops Assad, we have to flee. ”
The Assad regime and Russia’s offensive against northwest Syria meanwhile is driving more and more people away, according to the United Nations. An estimated 900,000 children, women and men have fled violence in Idlib and surrounding areas since the beginning of December, United Nations emergency coordinator Mark Lowcock said in New York on Monday. 1.3 million since April last year.
Many refugees are exposed to the freezing temperatures without protection, children and babies die as a result of the cold, according to the UN. Lowcock emphasized that the UN and its partners had launched a major relief operation. Since Turkey has blocked its border for refugees from Syria, most of the refugees persevere in the contested areas. Lowcock called the Syria conflict the “greatest humanitarian horror story” of the 21st century.
Despite this, Russia’s massive air strikes continued on Tuesday. A market place was hit in the now deserted city of Atareb in the Aleppo region and largely destroyed.
For the first time, Assad’s army also bombed cities that are close to the Turkish border, are full of refugees and have so far been spared. Artillery shells struck the city of ad-Dana on Monday evening and Tuesday noon, causing panic among the civilian population. A man who had previously fled the city of Chan Sheikhun was killed in the process, according to the Syrian Human Rights Network.
Work of the helpers becomes almost impossible
One of the last German organizations active on site is “Adopt a Revolution” from Leipzig. Spokeswoman Svenja Borgschulte spoke to BILD about the organization’s fear for its employees and partners in Idlib and Aleppo. “Our partners in Idlib already have experience of flight themselves and have fled the Syrian regime from other areas of Syria. For years one has been doing civil society work in other areas, now in Idlib. They run women’s centers, stand up against Islamist actors and make a major contribution to education. ”
Despite the massive bombing, the organization’s employees stayed at their sites for as long as possible, for example in Idlib City or Atareb. Borgschulte described to BILD the situation at one of the organization’s locations: “The regime is currently four kilometers from Atareb in the Aleppo region. The small town has been one of the refuges of internally displaced people in recent years. Now the city is almost deserted. People are not only fleeing the massive bombing – they are particularly afraid of the regime. ”
Borgschulte says she is “afraid for our partners who will stay there to help people who cannot escape for financial or health reasons”. Adopt a Revolution had already lost employees when the regime and Russia conquered East Ghouta …