After fleeing bombs, Syrians shelter in olive groves near Turkish border

After fleeing bombs, Syrians shelter in olive groves near Turkish border
Families who fled Assad regime and Russian strikes in northwestern Syria are sleeping in an olive grove near the Turkish border, without enough food and no place else to go.

They are some of the 150,000 people who have escaped a surge in violence in the last major Syrian opposition stronghold in the last few weeks.

It marks the most intense escalation between Assad and his revolutionaries since last summer, with dozens killed in the shelling of insurgent areas.

"The house fell in over my children and grandchildren at night ... but God saved them, they emerged from the rubble," said 70-year-old Aziza, as she spoke under the shade of an olive tree.

Aziza's family is among those who fled targeted parts of southern Idlib and northern Hama province, and are now living in the olive groves at the Turkish border.

There is no room for them at the nearby camp for the displaced in the town of Atmeh.

Aziza fled from the town of Kfar Nabodeh with 17 relatives nearly two weeks ago, taking nothing with her as the warplanes flew overhead. The civilian exodus has left many towns and villages deserted.

Some have made makeshift tents by stringing sheets between trees and infants sleep under mosquito nets suspended from the branches.

The Hay't Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is the dominant insurgent faction in the northwest. Revolutionaries launched a counterattack this week to counter ground advances by Assad regime militias.

Airstrikes have struck a dozen health facilities and violence has destroyed at least 10 schools, the UN humanitarian affairs office says.

The attacks have included the worst barrel bombing in 15 months, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator says. 

Much of the bombardment has hit a buffer zone agreed in September under a Russian-Turkish deal that spared the region and its 3 million residents from a full-blown assault.

Ankara has deployed forces into the region in agreement with Russia. They are stationed at a dozen positions, one of which was hit by shelling from Assad regime territory.

Based on Reuters

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