Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

36 Hours Behind ‘Closed Windows’ from Arsal to ‘Unknown Fate’ in Idlib | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55380378

Syrian refugees arrive in Wadi Hamayyed, on the outskirts of Lebanon’s northeastern border town of Arsal, to board buses bound for the northwestern Syrian town of Idlib on Wednesday, August 2nd. Photograph: Stringer/AFP

Beirut- Thousands of civilians arrived to Idlib from Lebanon on Friday, ending up, once more, as refugees inside local camps, with no hope to move again to Euphrates Shield-controlled areas in the north of Aleppo, or even to Turkey.

“The trip from Lebanon to Idlib took 36 hours, and had begun on Wednesday morning by assembling at the outskirts of Asral before proceeding in the afternoon to the Lebanese-Syrian borders in the presence of the Lebanese Red Cross,” one refugee told Asharq Al-Awsat. He said that on its way, the convoy stopped at a Syrian regime checkpoint in the Syrian town of Flita.

According to the refugee, “Hezbollah” members had ordered the closure of the buses’ windows to “prevent any disputes.”

The buses carrying civilians were weapons free, while al-Nusra militants were placed in special buses with their arms and families, he said.

“Civilians face a difficult situation and an unknown fate: the road between Idlib and the Euphrates Shield areas is still impassable whereas the border with Turkey is closed,” the refugee said.

A convoy of 113 busses carrying around five thousand militants and civilians has departed from Arsal on Wednesday, heading towards northern Syria through the region of Flita.

Twenty ambulances escorted the convoy, amidst measures by the army and the General Security.

Their departure is part of a swap deal between “Hezbollah” and “al-Nusra Front,” after the release of “Hezbollah” prisoners in exchange for “al-Nusra” militants detained by the Lebanese security forces.

The next phase of the deal would allow militants and civilians to leave for the town of Al-Rahiba in eastern Qalamoun, while the third phase of evacuation will include civilians wishing to return to their villages in western Qalamoun.

The refugee said that after arriving to Flita, civilians were divided between two refugee camps in the countryside of Idlib: Sa’ed and al-Qariya al-Tiniya in Maarat al-Ikhwan near Maarat Masreen.

He said buses carrying al-Nusra militants were sent to the city of Idlib.