Kim Sengupta in Syria sees refugees desperately fleeing regime
Thursday, 16 June 2011
".....The Independent had chanced across the group north of Ghassaniye after going into Syria through a smugglers' route from Turkey.
More than 12,000 people are now camped in a state of squalor and degradation on this side of the frontier. Another 8,500 had made it across only to be herded into camps and locked away with no access to the outside world, by the authorities in Ankara. Yesterday, these inmates held a protest demonstration during a visit by foreign minister Ahmet Davoutoglu to one of the holding centres.
But, for the desperate travellers on this dusty road, anything was better than the savage retribution they were seeking to escape. The violence, however, was never very far behind. The journey had been a perilous one with gunmen of the secret police, the Mukhabarat, and the Alawite militia, the Shabiha, tracking them and carrying out attacks.
"They had looted all they could and they had burnt our homes. But still they were not satisfied, they want blood," Issa Abdullah shook his head. "These men like killing, they are like wild dogs."....
The watchful man who appeared to be their leader, denied they were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation, which has strong roots in this region. He said: "We are protecting these routes because the [regime's] troops and the Mukhabarat had been carrying out ambushes. They are using snipers. We need to get our people away safely and that is what we are trying to do."
"I am a soldier. I used to fight for Bashar Assad, now I fight for the people. There are many of us and more are joining us. But we are soldiers and we are Syrians, we are not terrorists....