Syria - Azaz        August 2012

Border refugee campBorder refugee camp

UNHCR run refugee camp, Kilis border crossing / UNHCR-skött flyktingläger Kilis gränsstation

Yes, it definitely looks like a prison. Along the border to Turkey, hundreds of thousands of refugees await better times, ie a passage into Turkey and onwards to Europe. But that is an impossibility. In the meantime they languish inside, hidden behind steel walls, barbed wire, fences and watch-towers. A permission to visit as a journalist requires weeks of waiting for an approval from the Turkish authorities. Conditions are bad, and getting worse every day as the number of refugees steadily increases. No-one wants reports from there. The Syrian conflict is someting we all should forget, due to the inability of the international community to react. Just like the Bosnian war, remember?

Syria border flags, new onesSyria border weolcome

Welcome to Free Syria / Välkommen till det fria Syrien.

It was very easy, just walk up to the Turkish border post, hand over the passports, get an exit stamp and start walking. More than 38 degrees this day, at the beginning of August. New flags awaiting, and a handful of sleepy men, most of them unarmed. The French journalists, which I was travelling with, had arranged someone to meet us and escort us further into liberated territory. That is, liberated from Assad government control. That so called government has lost all moral rights to call itself the proper government of Syria. We continued to Azaz, about 6 kilometers into Syrian territory.


Burnt-out tanks, Azaz

Boy on tank, AzazBurnt-out tank, AzazRussioan ammo

Burnt-out Syrian government tanks, Russian ammo, Azaz / Sönderskjutna regeringsstridsvagnar, rysk ammunition, Azaz

The battle must have been quick. Government snipers on top of the mosque, five tanks in front of the mosque, two at the back. Some APC:s. The Syrian government forces had a considerable fire-power, enough to turn the whole city of Azaz into rubble. But after a few shots from the rebels, everything was over. It looks like the Assad government soldiers just deserted. Now children play here, there is no school yet.

And that is why the war is conducted as it is. Longe-range artillery shelling, helicopter gunships attacs, air bombardement. No ground troops, they would just vanish, desert. The on-the-ground action on behalf of the Assad forces is carried out most probably by Revolutionary guards, from Iran.

Bread queue, AzazDe Soto car, AzazBoy on motorcycle, Azaz

Bread queue, an old DeSoto, smiling on a motorbika - almost like normal ife. / Brödköer, en gammal DeSoto, leende på en motorcykel - nästan som ett normalt liv.

The locals in Azaz have managed to get the bakery going. A few have returned, most of them men. No armed people around, no check-points, no men in fatigues, no weapons seen here. Clearly, the Assad army - so called one of the strongest in the Arab world - is now unable to regain lost territory.

Operation, AzazOperation, blood, Azaz

Operation in a provicial hospital, a man wounded in Aleppo / Operation i ett provisoriskt sjukhus, an man sårad i Aleppo.

The city of Aleppo is just 45 km:s away. Wounded are brought here for operation, in what used to be just a clinic. Medication is scarce, so are doctors and electricity.

Man wholost his thumbHeroes, martyrs fro freedom

A man who lost his thumb. Some others who lost their lives. For freedom. / En man som förlorat sin tumme. Andra som förlorat livet. Allt för friheten.

Empty casings, AzazAssad as doormat

Empty casings after the fight. Assad, now used as a door-mat. / Tomhylsor efter striderna. Assad - nu som dörrmatta.

BoySitting in the garden, AzazGrapesFrench journalistsMan with boy

Relaxing in the heat during ramadan. Only me and the French journalists eat the grapes and drink water. / Vilar under hettan, Ramadan. Bara jag och de franska journalisterna äter av druvorna och dricker vattnet.

The future for Syria? The fall of Assad is inevitable. The question is just how many more thousands of innocent people are going to die before the veto of Russia and China and the threat and support from Iran will be overrun in favour of action. What happened with the so much discussed "Responsibility to protect"? Anyone who knows?


TV-reports broadcasted on Finnish TV, TV-Nytt, YLE / FST

Syria - rebels

Syria - the city of Azaz

©  Axiom Film / Lennart Berggren augusti 2012

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