Sunday, September 2, 2012

Refugee Camps in Northern Syria Still Impossible

Turkey is pressuring the international community to establish refugee camps inside Syria as refugee flows increase to tens of thousands per week. The regime’s military presence on the northern border, however, makes this plan unworkable for the time-being, as there is no political will to place troops or aid workers inside Syria near regime positions. Until the rebels consolidate unquestioned control of the northern border, any suggestion that camps be established inside Syria will continue to be a nonstarter.

The rebels of northern Idlib province are fighting to push the regime’s remaining forces out of the border region. The major rebel groups in the area, including The Shuhada Idlib Brigade and The Deraa Hunano Brigade, are laying siege to a regime held town two kilometers from the Turkish border named Haram. The first day of fighting did not go well for the rebels. A contingent of fighters from the Uthman Dhu Nurain Battalion of the Shuhada Idlib Brigade got pinned down by heavy machine gun fire near the Haram citadel. Trapped, the battalion issued a request for covering fire to facilitate their withdrawal which was posted on the Facebook pages of the Local Coordination Committees in the surrounding towns. When help arrived, the Uthman Dhu Nurain unit withdrew on foot through a series of valleys, but later criticized fighters who thought the request for assistance was specious.

As of late today, there are reports that an armored convoy is on Route 56 headed toward Haram from the direction of Salqin. The Local Coordination Committees in the area have issued calls for fighters on Route 56 to attack the convoy, whose aim is to either reinforce the regime position inside Haram, or pull the garrison out. In any case, calls for the establishment of refugee camps inside Syria are premature until the rebels consolidate control of all the villages along Turkey’s border. The effort to do so is ongoing, but by no means easy.

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