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Some families fleeing the fighting in Aleppo are remaining in Syria and seeking refuge in the Kurdish region in the north.

A VOA reporter in Kurdish Syria saw several trucks carrying families and their belongings. The families said the trip took several days, and involved passing through checkpoints manned by a variety of factions, including IS fighters.

"We first went to the city of Raqqa," one father told VOA of the city under IS control. "We stayed there for four days and ran away to this area."

Smugglers are demanding top dollar, one young girl said.

"We gave 120,000 [Syrian pounds – about $555] to a man just to help us get through two checkpoints," she said.

The families said they had no choice to leave Aleppo, as the fighting and bombings are fierce.

"A rocket fell to the ground and hit my sister and her husband," a woman told VOA. "Her husband died and one of her hands and legs broke. She has a son and daughter."

On their way to northern Syria, one of the families stayed for a short time under IS control in Raqqa.

"We witnessed IS punishing people who didn’t fast during Ramadan," a young boy told VOA. "They put them in a cage under the hot sunlight."