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Syrian Refugees Watch Violence Unfold from Border Camp

  • Henry Ridgwell

KILIS, Turkey — More than 300 people a day are fleeing Syria into Turkey to escape violence between government forces and the opposition. At Kilis camp on the Turkish border, refugees watch as the violence unfolds just a few kilometers away.

Syrian helicopters buzz rebel-held territory - occasionally firing rockets that raise plumes of smoke. Army snipers holed up in a minaret take aim at anyone trying to flee Syria.

Kilis refugee camp in Turkey is at the border. The Syrian flag flies just a few hundred meters from the revolutionary colors hoisted above the camp.

Syrian government forces occasionally fire through the perimeter fence. Two people were killed and 23 wounded during such an attack in April. One refugee points to the bullet holes in the walls and windows of his cabin.

"My cousin was injured in the attack," he said. "He was shot in the hip… he is still in hospital."

A concrete wall has since been built to offer some protection. It is now a canvas for anti-Assad graffiti.

Another man shows us scars he says are from being tortured in a Syria jail. He is now a fighter with the Free Syrian Army.

Twenty-seven thousand refugees have crossed from Syria; 11,500 live in this camp, which is now full. Hope that the conflict may end soon is waning.

Clinics provide urgent and ongoing medical care for the hundreds of injured and sick.

There are two mosques, general stores, a laundry - all lend an air of permanence to the camp.

Fumigator trucks make an attempt to tackle the flies.

Despite some complaints, the refugees say they are grateful to the Turkish government for offering them shelter. Their anger is directed at Syria's allies like Russia who they blame for arming President Assad's forces.

One elderly man says countries like Iran and Russia and Venezuela are supporting the Assad regime. "This is a criminal regime," he said. "We need the rest of the world to make themselves the friends of the Syrian people, to support the FSA and support democracy - not just in words but actions."

Another man asks why the United States is ignoring the Syrians. "Why doesn't the United States stop Russia killing in Syria?" he said.

For the refugees at Kilis, the complexities of international politics mean little. They have front row seats as the killing continues just over the border.