Al Jazeera Blogs


Middle East

Arriving to fresh blood in Syria's Azaz

Residents say they have no choice but staying in Syrian town bombarded by fighter jets.
Last modified: 27 Jan 2013 02:42
Residents said cluster bombs were used in Saturday's bombardment [Basma Atassi]

Aleppo Province, Syria - Within the span of 30 minutes, around 10 cars crossed into Turkey from Syria in full speed. They did not stop for border control.

The vehicles were transporting people injured in bombardment by fighter jets, which could be seen in the sky from the border.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces shelled the towns of Manbej, Tal Rifaat and Azaz in Aleppo province on Saturday evening, leaving scores of people dead or injured.

The blood on the ground had not yet dried when Al Jazeera's team entered al-Sharkiya neighbourhood in Azaz just an hour later. A young man was trying to bury a pool of blood with mud as two cats were coming near it, sniffing. Six people had been wounded in the neighbourhood.

Residents said cluster bombs had cut off a woman's two legs and left two of her children seriously injured. Shrapnel cut through the father’s body and one of his kidneys was pushed out through the skin, we were told.

The family was among those being rushed to Turkey, just 3km away, for treatment. Locals said they were the relatives of a former member of parliament, and their tribe was considered supportive of the regime.

"Fighter jets do not differentiate between a dissident and a fighter, between a child and an adult, between a fighter and a civilian," Safa, a resident, told us.

The house of the MP himself, who fled just a week earlier, was damaged. One of the water pipes in the house was shelled and water was running through the cracks of the pipe.

While the whole of Azaz is rebel-controlled, residents say the fighters have no bases or facilities in al-Sharkiya.

It was considered a relatively safe neighbourhood before Saturday's bombardment. In July, rebels from Azaz overran the military security premises nearby, from which tanks of regime forces had shelled the neighbourhood frequently.

Most of the roughly 400 residents have remained in their homes instead of fleeing.

The Turkish camp for Syrians just three kilometres away has no space for more refugees and the residents say they cannot afford to rent places somewhere else.

“We literally have no place to go. We are stuck here waiting to see who's next to die,” Safa said.

"We were happy when we heard that patriot missiles have been deployed at the Turkish borders. We thought they were for the protection of the Syrian people. But they weren't. They were merely for the protection of Turkey," he said.

"I am telling you, there is no hope for us. Even this report you are writing, it will not bring any change for us."