Syrians seek shelter in Turkey

YAYLADAGI: The Arab Spring hit hard on Syria. In the hope of a regime change, thousands have thrown themselves in streets chanting against Syrian President al Bashar Assad who is committed to cling into power and to dreadfully use violence against the civilians.

Refugees are transferred from the border to Yayladagi camp in minibuses. ©CagilKasapoglu

Fearing their future has dragged thousands of Syrians to seek shelter in Turkish soils: ‘The neighbour’, who has once promised to have ‘zero-problem’ with Syria…

I went to Turkish Syrian border town Hatay to cover the refugee influx for Radikal, though I wasn’t allowed to visit the Yayladi camp which hosted thousands. The camp is established by Turkish Red Crescent and is frequently been visited by Turkish officials to list the need of Syrian refugees.

I split my time between Yayladagi and Guvecci village, which is the crossing path for illegal refuge. Now under strict control of the army, there is a registration spot for Syrians crossing the border… We could see long queues lined up alongside the border, and a small ‘tent city’ for those waiting to cross in.

Ahmad and his friend at Guvecci border village. ©CagilKasapoglu

Since the journalists weren’t allowed to meet the Syrian refugees in the camp, we could only talk to illegal refugees at Guvecci… At this point, I would like to stress that many reports at the border and the testimonies are based on claims, and can hardly be verified since no journalists are permitted to visit Syria at the current situation.

Here are some quotes of the refugees I met and some parts of my report on Turkish Radikal:

‘Poisoned water distributed by Syrian army’

An illegal refugee wished to be named as Ahmad from Jisr al Shugour said that the regime forces were distributing poisoned water in plastic bottles, which had needle size hole on top. Being hospitalised was their end… “There is no exit from hospital. They kill the patients as well.”

“There are random shootings…” he continued:

“There is no ethnic clash, although some try to create. It’s People Vs Army.”

Yayladagi camp set by Turkish Red Crescent is overloaded. ©CagilKasapoglu

Ahmad said the people’s main fear is not Bashar al Assad anymore, but his brother Maher Assad who commands the 4th Brigade of the Army. “Cruel” is the word Ahmad uses to describe him. “He’s doing anything possible to disseminate the anti-regime gatherings. For the killing of 123 policemen last Sunday in Jisr al Shugour, he said, “It was the war between the people and the army.”

“Instead of waiting the army to kill me, I’ll be the first one killing them.”

Another illegal refugee who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons said that the border village on Syrian side, Harapjoz was an easy cross in spot for them. He said that there was no Turkish nor Syrian security guards monitoring and that ‘everybody was able to pass with no restriction.”

Mattresses brought for Syrians waiting at the border. ©CagilKasapoglu

I’m here for a few days, will try to get as much as I can but it is impossible to get accurate information since no officials tend to speak to the press. Nerve-wrecking…

The article has been published at Radikal’s front page. Audio coverage for Radikal.

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