Syrian refugees ‘have gone missing’

My source at the Syrian refugee camp in Yayladagi, Houda Kassoum has previously provided me with some insight information from the camp , at the time when no journalists were allowed in. Around 2 weeks ago, my phone rang again but this time with a panicking and worried voice of her.

Begging me to find her husband, Moustafa Muhammad Kassoum who has gone missing. When I jumped into the story, I realised that her husband wasn’t the only ‘mysterious missing’ but Syrian defected military officer Lieutenant Colonel Hussein al-Harmoush was amongst them. Harmoush, has announced his split from the army at Idlib province on the 9th of June and has declared Free Syrian Army under his command. Soon after, as Houda claimed he has fled to Turkey and has been replaced in Reyhanli camp.

Houda and her family have fled to Turkey in early June. She was the close witness of civilian massacre in Jisr al Shughur. I have previously written in this blog her story and how she had left Syria…

She has praised Turkish authorities help to accommodate Syrian refugees in its territory every time we have spoken.  But this time,  her voice was concerned, doubtful and questioning…

She said, Moustafa her husband was a dissident figure in Syria and has participated in anti-regime protests which has made their way to Turkey. Soon after, he has become a well-known figure at Yayladagi Camp in Hatay since he was eager to help other refugees as well…

Sent to other camp firt

The conflict broke when a Syrian French doctor paid visit to Yayladagi, to distribute help and donate in her limited budget. Those who accused her for not distributing the aid equally has found themselves in severe fight with Moustafa who opposed them. The conflict which soon after ended when Turkish authorities moved Mustafa out of Yayladagi camp and replaced in Reyhanli. Spared from from his family, he was forced to stay in Reyhanli camp for two days, where Harmoush was living in.

Then on 28th of August, as Houda told me, Moustafa was called in to Antakya police station for further investigation. And the last time she spoke to his husband was 4 pm the very same day. Ever since, she has been seeking for Moustafa. Houda, claims that Colonel Harmoush was called by police officers the same day as of him and has gone missing as well…

Yesterday, she has called me with the latest allegations… that Mousfata was sent back to Syria together with Colonel Harmoush… and was under custody in Damascus…

“They’ve returned him back. I know it’s not the Turkish authorities, but they say it may be Syrian intelligence…”

Her sources were not only in Syria but in London as well. Vaheed Sokur, London based journalist has claimed that Moustafa was in Damascus prison with Syrian intelligence together with a several friends of him since last week. He has based his allegations on his sources in Damascus.

Couple hours after speaking to her, Hussein Al Harmoush’s ‘confession’ was aired on Syrian SANA Tv channel, which can be read at NOW Lebanon’s page here.

Authorities: We never return anyone back

I stalked Turkish authorities for two weeks to receive and accurate information and to get the truth behind the allegations. But nothing…
My colleagues in Ankara have also tried to reach them. According to their report, Turkish diplomatic sources said they’ve been investigation the case of Moustafa. The government sources spoke to Radikal said”

“We never return anyone who’s seeking refuge in our country for humanitarian resons. We didn’t sent anyone back. Those news have been spread by Syria which’s been ”annoyed by the existence of the camps. Perhaps [Moustafa] has feared and either kept his name or maybe gave up on Syrian government’s threat and turned back to the country.”

Another diplomatic source stressed that there has been more than 20.000 refugees entering the camp and said, “11.000 people have left but now in 6 camps there are 7.550 refugees. Those peculiar numbers are cause by the traffic. It is hard to control the names.”

This article was published at Turkish daily Radikal. (Moustafa’s photo can be seen on Radikal’s page.)

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