‘Civil march for Aleppo’ leaves Berlin

Demonstrators attend the Civil March for Aleppo in Berlin on Dec. 26, 2016.(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Updated 28 December 2016

‘Civil march for Aleppo’ leaves Berlin

BERLIN: About 400 peace activists were marching Tuesday from the outskirts of Berlin toward the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo, heading down the refugee trail in reverse.
Organized by Polish journalist and blogger Anna Alboth, the “Civil March for Aleppo” aims to build political pressure to help civilians caught up in the Syrian conflict.
Carrying white flags and hiking backpacks and wearing outdoor gear against the cold and wet December weather, the marchers had on Monday left from the center of Berlin.
Alboth told Germany’s left-leaning Tageszeitung daily that only a core group of 30 activists planned to walk all the way, adding that she expected they may be blocked at the Turkish border.
“The true purpose of the march is that the civilians in Syria get access to humanitarian aid,” she said. “We are marching to build pressure.”
The starting point was the disused airfield of the Nazi-era Tempelhof airport, which during the Cold War became the hub for the Berlin airlift and now houses several thousands refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries.
The marchers plan to cover around 20 km a day and walk through the Czech Republic, Austria and several western Balkan countries to Turkey — and then on to Syria.
It is the route into Europe that was taken last year by more than a million people, many fleeing battlefields in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, with the majority ending up in the top EU economy Germany.
Several thousand people have pledged on Facebook they would join at least a section of the about 3,000-km trek bound for Syria’s second city, which is now squarely under the regime control.


Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

Updated 22 min 21 sec ago

Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

  • The Syrian Observatory reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control
  • The Idlib region is one of the last holdouts of opposition forces

DAMASCUS: Thousands have returned to their hometowns in northwest Syria after military advances by government loyalist against militants and allied rebels, state media said Sunday.
“Thousands of citizens return to their villages and towns of the northern Hama countryside and the southern Idlib countryside,” state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control.
Since August 31, a cease-fire announced by regime backer Russia has largely held in northwestern Syria, though the Observatory has reported sporadic bombardment.
SANA said the returns came amid “government efforts to return the displaced to their towns and villages.”
The Idlib region of around three million people, many of them dispaced by fighting in other areas, is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Moscow announced the cease-fire late last month after four months of deadly violence that displaced 400,000 people, most of whom fled north within the jihadist-run bastion, according to the United Nations.
Regime forces had chipped away at the southern edges of the jihadist-run stronghold throughout August, retaking towns and villages in the north of Hama province and the south of Idlib province.
Syria’s civil war has killed more than 370,000 people since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
Assad’s regime now controls more than 60 percent of the country after notching up a series of victories against rebels and jihadists with key Russian backing since 2015.
But a large chunk of Idlib, fully administered by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate since January, as well as a Kurdish-held swathe of the oil-rich northeast, remain beyond its reach.