News / Middle East

Syrian Rebel Town Empties After Government Bombing

Syrian Rebel Town Empties After Government Bombingsi
X
February 15, 2013 4:29 PM
The Syrian government's bombing and shelling campaign in rebel-held areas and elsewhere in the country has caused tens of thousands to flee their homes. VOA's Scott Bobb visited the northern town of Azzaz, which has been hit repeatedly by government aerial attacks.
Scott Bobb
The Syrian government's bombing and shelling campaign in rebel-held areas and elsewhere in the country has caused tens of thousands to flee their homes. The northern town of Azzaz, has been hit repeatedly by aerial attacks.

There are almost no unbroken windows in Azzaz. Residents have given up replacing the broken glass because of repeated bombings by Assad's forces. The air attacks began eight months ago after rebels seized the city.

More than 80 percent of the population - estimated at 55,000 people - have fled. Hundreds of residents have been killed. And many more have been wounded.

Two bombs last month hit near the city's 700-year-old mosque and market, killing 35, mostly women and children. Now only a few vendors in the market's covered street try to stay open.

Abdullah Mahmoud says it is hard. Vegetable prices have tripled or more since the war started, and people don't have money to buy. He has thought of leaving but stays on.

“I need to do business to live," he explains. "If something bad happens, it's God's will; it happens. I have no money. Where can I go?”

The reason for the residents' flight is all too evident in a farming neighborhood on the outskirts of town. Three weeks ago, nine bombs landed here.

Only one exploded. It seriously wounded Mohamed Bakri's brother-in-law, a female cousin and three children. They are in a hospital in Turkey. Yet, Bakri says, there are no rebel forces in this area.

The government maintains it is going after terrorists and is not targeting civilians.
 
“I think it's random shelling," Bakri said. "They've bombed the market and other civilian areas. The government is just taking revenge on the Syrian people.”

Many of those who flee the attacks first go to places like an olive farm located outside the city and close to the Turkish border. They hope the Syrian planes will not bomb here and they will be safe.

Farmer Mahmoud Ashawi left Azzaz with his family of nine after the market bombing. About 70 members of his extended family now live here in tents.
 
“For us it's not too bad but we need to work. We can go to Azzaz to work for a while. But, when we hear the sound of the jets, we run away," Ashawi admits. "They don't bomb every day, but, when they do, they bomb civilians.”

Ashawi's family has applied for space in the ever-growing Bab al-Salama camp just this side of the Turkish border. If they get in, they will join the more than 10,000 Syrians waiting in the camp to become refugees in Turkey.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
February 15, 2013 4:50 PM
Bashar al Assad needs to be disabled.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid