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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs