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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid