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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid