Syrians living in rebel-controlled areas fear hardships |
Arab News - 07 June, 2012
A Jeddah-based member of the opposition Syrian National Council has warned of the dangers and hardships Syrian families face in the war-torn country, especially in those areas controlled by the Free Syrian Army.
Mohammed Al-Tarkawi told Arab News many Syrian families in regions controlled by the Free Syrian Army say they are happy to be liberated but added they face hardships and real risk due to the ongoing battles between the army and government forces trying to restore control of these areas.
"The main cities of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus are still under the control of the Syrian government. At the same time, the Free Syrian Army is trying to control the whole of Homs. There are some districts in Homs controlled by the Free Army such as Al-Khaldiyah, Al-Bayiaddh, Bab Hood and Al-Safsafah. However, there are some military clashes continuing between both sides in Al-Joura and Al-Shayah," he said.
“In the suburbs of Homs, Syrian families are at risk from the government army’s indiscriminate bombing attacks. Homs is the site of one of the main battles between the government's army and the Free Syrian Army as it is a strategic location close to the Lebanese border.
The majority of Syrian families have lost loved ones during the fighting there. Ar-Rustan, Talbisah, Talkalakh, Al- Qusayer and Al-Houla have witnessed a sustained bombing campaign by the government's army to restore their control in these regions again.”
The number of refugees in Homs has reached more than 700,000, said Al-Tarkawi, adding they have retreated to neighboring areas while there are a large number of Syrian families who have started living in schools.
“The Syrians in Homs work together to meet their needs. The Syrian soldiers in Homs are working to distribute aid including food and other essential needs to families who have lost their homes,” he said.
Around 25 percent of Syrian lands are under the control of the Free Syrian Army but the government's army is trying to restore its control in these regions again, according to Haitham Al-Maleh, a Syrian opposition leader.
Many families have lost their fathers and sons in the surrounding areas of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. The suburbs of these cities are controlled by the Free Syrian Army.
However, the Syrian regime's army continues to bomb these regions to force the opposition forces to withdraw from these areas. There are many families who have refused to leave their homes and want to protest against the Syrian regime in spite of their hardships.
"The Syrian government continues to bomb our regions. There are many families who have lost their sons during the attacks. Many stores in Homs have been closed. We are sure there will be a massacre here similar to what happened in Houla. The only way to escape from these battles is to retreat to the Lebanese border. After the massacre of Houla, many of us left our homes as we feared for our lives thanks to the ongoing bombings.
The families here need food and urgent medical support to stay alive. The majority of hospitals in Homs have been destroyed as a result of the military clashes," said Abu Waiel, a Syrian living in Homs.
The suburbs of Aleppo are also controlled by the Free Syrian Army. However, Syrian families living there can only meet their basic needs by going to the Syrian villages of Azaz and Atrab that is close to the border with Turkey. The opposition’s control of these villages helped them to find military support from the Turkish border.
The Syrian government's army is very determined to restore control of the suburbs of Aleppo, especially Idlib, to cut off this supply of provisions to the Syrian Free Army. Around 70 percent of the Syrian Free Army's solders in Idlib are working to maintain control over the suburbs of Aleppo, according to Mohammed Al-Halabi, spokesman of the Syrian Revolution Coordination Union.
"The ongoing bombing of the Aleppo suburbs by the Syrian government's army increased the number of refugees to 300,000. Many of them have fled to Al-Bab, the nearest village to the border with Turkey.
A small number of Syrians decided to stay in their village of Atrab in spite of the ongoing bombing there," Al-Halabi told Arab News over the telephone from Aleppo.
"The Free Syrian Army in coordination with the Syrian people are working together to enhance security inside the suburbs of Aleppo," added Mohammed Al-Halbi.
"I cannot describe what we dangers we face if we continue living at our homes. I lost my older brother and some relatives in a random bombing attack by the Syrian army last month. I am sad to say that we have to give up working or close our stores. Many Syrians in these regions are waiting for death every day," Abu Khaled, a Syrian citizen who lives in Idlib, told Arab News.
The major challenge of the Free Syrian army is to preserve control over the suburbs of Homs and Aleppo that are close to the borders with Lebanon and Turkey in order to maintain a flow of provisions from outside to help people.
"The Free Syrian Army controls more than 25 percent of Syrian lands but it continues to vie for control of Damascus. The military clashes are continuing between the Syrian Free Army and the government's army and there is a need to secure more weapons," another Syrian opposition leader Haitham Al-Maleh told Arab News during a visit to Jeddah on Monday.