More than 7,000 Syrians quit camp near Jordan border

Syria’s civil war killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 April 2019
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More than 7,000 Syrians quit camp near Jordan border

  • Those who have quit the camp have moved to collective shelters in the central city of Homs or resettled in their areas of origin
  • The camp has been particularly difficult to reach due to its location on the Jordanian border and the proximity of US forces and the rebels they support

BEIRUT: More than 7,000 people have left a desperate desert camp for displaced Syrians near the Jordanian border since March, a United Nations spokesperson said Friday.
According to the UN’s humanitarian coordination office OCHA, around 36,000 people remained in the isolated Rukban camp near Al-Tanf base used by the US-led coalition fighting the Daesh group, after over 4,000 left between March and April 21.
The Syrian government and key backer Russia said in February they had opened corridors out of the camp, calling on residents to leave.
“Since March, over 7,300 people have left Rukban,” OCHA spokesman David Swanson told AFP, including some 3,000 who left after April 21.
Those who have quit the camp have moved to collective shelters in the central city of Homs or resettled in their areas of origin in the province of the same name, OCHA said Thursday.
It said Rukban residents were organizing their own transportation to the edge of a de-escalation zone established around Al-Tanf, from where they either continued in their vehicles or were transferred by private or government-provided vehicles to four collective shelters in Homs city.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says those returning to government-held parts of Homs from Rukban had struck so-called “reconciliation deals” with the Syrian government.
Conditions inside Rukban are dire, with many surviving on just one simple meal a day, often bread and olive oil or yoghurt, according to one resident.
The camp has been particularly difficult to reach due to its location on the Jordanian border and the proximity of US forces and the rebels they support.
In February, a humanitarian convoy of 133 trucks delivered food, clothes, health care items and medical supplies to the camp’s residents.
The February 6 delivery was just the second in three months.
Syria’s civil war killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.