Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Securing the Gulag: Assad accused of brutal border crackdown

New mines and increased border security can make refugees' journey to Lebanon a deadly one

The Independent
Tripoli, Lebanon
Wednesday 04 April 2012

"The already perilous journey for refugees fleeing the violence in Syria has become increasingly deadly in recent weeks as President Bashar al-Assad attempts to tighten control of the conflict-ravaged country's borders with fresh landmines, say aid workers and fleeing refugees.

As spring arrives, the Syrian army is said to be laying new mines along the 330km long border with Lebanon to replace those washed away during winter flooding and removed by activists.

It comes amid wider attempts by the Syrian regime to disrupt networks smuggling people, weapons and aid through the once notoriously porous borders, and reports of recent incursions into Lebanon to rout out rebels.....

One refugee who fled to Lebanon's second city of Tripoli two weeks ago told The Independent that she scoured the ground for any sign of hidden mines as she crossed with her seven-year-old son, and that the border hills are littered with the gory remains of those who had failed to spot them.

"I saw the human flesh and body parts on the ground where people had trodden on them," said Afida, 41, from the devastated city of Homs. At one point where the valley she crossed was still flooded, she had to guide her son across the swollen waters on a makeshift bridge made from planks of wood with a rope strung overhead......"

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