Families who fled Syrian government and Russian strikes in northwestern Syria are sleeping in an olive grove near the Turkish border without enough food and no place else to go. In the latest saga of Syrian civilians, olive groves provide shelter to thousands of fleeing Syrians.
Not the U.N., not neighboring countries, not Europe, and certainly not the U.S.; rather, olive groves are sheltering Syrians from Assad and Putin’s violence..
They are some of the 180,000 people who have escaped an upsurge in violence in the last major Syrian rebel stronghold in the last few weeks. It marks the most intense escalation between Assad and his opponents, Islamists and non-Islamists since last summer. The death toll is rising as bombing sorties continue.
A 70-year-old woman who gave her name as Aziza, as she spoke under the shade of an olive tree, told Reuters:.
The house fell in over my children and grandchildren at night … but God saved them, they emerged from the rubble.
Aziza’s family is one of scores who fled targeted parts of southern Idlib and northern Hama province and are now living in the olive groves at the Turkish border.
There is no room for them at the nearby camp for the displaced in the town of Atmeh.
Aziza fled her town of Kfar Nabuda with 17 relatives nearly two weeks ago, taking nothing with her, as the warplanes flew overhead. The exodus has left many towns and villages empty.
Some have made makeshift tents by stringing sheets between the olive trees. Infants sleep under mosquito nets suspended from the branches. A kitchen stove is found in one of the shelters.
The jihadist Tahrir al-Sham is the dominant insurgent faction in the northwest. Rebels launched a counterattack this week to counter ground advances by Syrian government forces.
ASSAD TARGETS HOSPITALS
The Assad air strikes have struck 18 health facilities and violence has destroyed at least 16 schools, U.N. humanitarian adviser Najat Rochdi told reporters in Geneva.
Aerial bombardment, including the reported use of barrel bombs causing severe damage to civilian infrastructures and civilian casualties is a war practice which goes against every single humanitarian principle.
Medical charity UOSSM said the Tarmala Maternity is one Assad destroyed; in addition to a Children’s Hospital. Luckily, civilians evacuated both facilities before the attack.
Much of the bombardment has hit a buffer zone agreed in September under a Russian-Turkish deal that spared the region and its 3 million residents from a full-blown assault.
Ankara, which backs some rebels, has deployed forces into the region in agreement with Russia in a dozen locations. One of which the Syrian government shelled.
Turkey has called on the Syrian government to stop the attacks. Still, Abu Abdo al-Khani said Ankara’s deal with Moscow had failed to help his family.
Khani, 30, said:
We were supposed to be within the secure zone, where is it? Where are (Turkish President) Erdogan and his guarantees to protect us?
Khani’s family fled the town of Khan Sheikhoun on foot through the countryside. He said they had received some blankets and water in the olive field.