News / Middle East

Turkish-Syrian Border Becomes Haven for Syrian Opposition

A demonstrator protests against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria, December 19, 2011.
A demonstrator protests against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria, December 19, 2011.
Henry Ridgwell

The Turkish-Syrian border has become a key conduit for the Syrian opposition, including defectors in the Free Syria Army who have set up an underground network of bases.

A couple of kilometers over the border: A cellphone video captures Syrian soldiers firing on people trying to flee across to Turkey.

Locals say the Syrian army now has deployed snipers and units all along the frontier. Dozens of people have been killed in the last month.

They include Dr. Ibrahim Othman, one of the leading figures in the organization ‘Damascus Doctors,’ which ran an underground network of clinics to treat wounded protesters. Fellow activists say he was shot dead while crossing the border.

The Syria-Turkey frontier has become a key conduit for the opposition. At a refugee camp in the village of Yayladagi, one former soldier described how he defected and fled to Turkey.

“I was faced with two choices,” he said. “Either to shoot the demonstrators or to be shot myself. So I defected and fled from the army.  After I did that, I got the news that my father had been shot and killed. I didn’t know what to do. They also took my cousin, he is five years old,” the soldier added. “I was not the only one who defected from the army. Another 10 soldiers fled with me and came here. All my family are at home so I cannot reveal my identity.”

Army defectors have formed the ‘Free Syria Army’ to take on Assad’s forces. Turkey has said that international forces could create a buffer zone at the border if the situation worsens. The Free Syria Army said that would give it a launch pad to topple the Assad government. But for now, the defectors are heavily outnumbered and outgunned.

One activist took VOA to see a basement safehouse in the Turkish city of Antakya. The Free Syria Army is run through a network of bases like this one.

After dark, the activists gather in the basement, greeting each other warmly.

One of them, Wael Khardy said his brother is a captain in the Free Syria Army. He said they need international help.

“There is no outside help for the Free Army and they do not have the capability [to overthrow Assad],” he said. “If they get that support, I think we will achieve the freedom of Syria, but with the current situation on the ground, it is impossible.”

So far international powers have indicated they have no plans to intervene militarily in Syria, for fear of the consequences across the Middle East. So the activists along the Turkish border - and the protesters inside Syria - will continue to fight alone.



You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid