Slowly but surely, village after village in Idlib is falling into the hands of the Syrian army. It usually goes like this: after weeks of continuous bombing and shelling, the moment arrives. Images of the victors appear on social media: photos and videos of triumphant soldiers and fighters. They parade through the streets amongt the ruins in what have become ghost towns. By this time, the people have already left, heading north. According to some estimates, more than 700,000 people have fled since 1 May. Looking for safety that is nowhere to be found in Idlib.
“Hi Ahmed, what’s the news?”
“It goes on and on. I’m home alone now. My wife and children are at my mother-in-law’s. Our house is too dangerous because it’s close to a hospital. I told you they bomb hospitals, right?”
“Wednesday was another air strike. At first we thought no one was killed, but the White Helmets started searching through the rubble because someone was missing from a family from another village. They found his body. After digging some more, they found the people who live in the house, still alive in the basement. A little miracle!”
“Did you hear about the demonstrations taking place today? They say that hundreds of thousands are on their way to Bab al-Hawa near the Turkish border. The protesters are going to try to break through the border and go into Turkey.”
“They don’t want to stay in Turkey, but they want to show that it’s serious: if the Turks do not come to our aid, come to protect us against the Russians and the Syrians, then we will come to them.”
“Can you hear that? That’s from a live stream on Facebook: the Turkish soldiers are shooting tear gas at the demonstrators. It’s terrible, but we have no choice. Our cities and villages are being razed to the ground. We are hunted down and we are in a corner. Nobody protects us. There’s no way out.”