Refugees, Former Militants Escape Aleppo's Quarters Controlled by Terrorists Read mo
Refugees, Former Militants Escape Aleppo's Quarters Controlled by Terrorists
Despite the amnesty declared by Syrian President Bashar Assad for the surrendering terrorists, there is no significant flows of former militants or refugees leaving the areas of the war-torn city of Aleppo as they are threatened by extremist groups.
ALEPPO (Syria) (Sputnik) — A RIA Novosti correspondent succeeded to meet the civilians, as well as former terrorists, who succeeded to escape the terrorists-controlled zones and to reach the territory controlled by government forces.
Nighttime adventure It was the dead of the night, when I was waken up by a call from an officer from the Sheikh Maqsood checkpoint. "I am sorry for the early call, but a group of 30 people, including women and children, has come to our checkpoint literally 30 minutes ago. Our commander has allowed you to come and to speak with them, before they are taken to the [refugee] camp," my interlocutor said. It was a rare chance to meet such a big group, because the jihadists prevent the civilians from fleeing the city. Recently, the terrorists had carried out an exemplary execution of 26 people in eastern Aleppo. But even under such conditions people in eastern Aleppo were so hopeless that they decided to leave the city.
"We have understood that our journey could end before we arrive. They have threatened us all the time, saying that they would take our children away or execute us, but it was impossible to live there. That's why we gathered and headed for the checkpoint in small groups with our children in darkness. It was frightening," a young girl said.
Syrian servicemen had been making lists of the arrived people, while Syrian doctors provided them with first aid. The group was expected to be taken to the refugee camp, where they would be able to eat and rest. "They [terrorists] have taken all food. We have not had food, because we do not have anyone, who fights in their ranks. We have been told for two months that the army is responsible for our starvation. We came to the army, we knew that we had been deceived," a woman said staying near a bus before departure to the camp. Former militants The refugees were not the only people, who fled Aleppo that night. An officer told me that the government forces were ready to allow me to meet two former jihadists who decided to surrender.
After about 10 minutes we arrived in the detention unit of the Syrian military intelligence service and were brought to a room, where the two surrendered militants had already been taken for questioning.
From the very beginning, both Syrians started persuading us that they had not killed anyone. One of them said that he used to be a guard at a checkpoint, while the second one was ordered to refill gas cylinders. "As soon as our region has been announced a territory under control of the Free [Syrian] Army,' [FSA] we have been thrown into dilemma either we are with them, or we are enemies. But I have not killed anyone, I have refilled gas cylinders and fed my family," the first detainee said.
"The situation in the eastern quarters has significantly worsened in the last two months. The leaders of Nusra Front [now known as Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham], Noureddin Zinki and other groups have replaced the FSA in eastern Aleppo long ago. Now we have warlords from Egypt and Saudi Arabia. They carry out agitation in mosques, calling on men to take up arms alluding that otherwise arms could be used against them," the second surrendered said.
It was obvious that the two men did not disclose many details due to fears that this information could be used against them. According to the general, who was also in the room during the conversation, if they had committed crimes it would not be hard to prove it, because the residents of Aleppo know each other.
The second former extremist said that there were many people in Aleppo's eastern districts, who wanted to lay down their arms, but they had been convinced that Damascus forces would kill everyone in prisons. They decided to prove the falsehood of these allegations.
"I would not lie, I am still afraid and when the revolution just started I supported it, but I had not supported radicals and foreigners. I, as well as many others, wanted something to change for the better," he added.
The both men said that they opposed the policy of the Syrian ruling party, but they could not even imagine that they would be forced to live under sharia law and the rule of foreign militants. After an hour-long questioning, both militants said that they were ready to establish links with their former companions in arms and to convince them that they would not be killed in prisons and the amnesty announced by Assad was not a lie. The general expressed hope that a lot of people would be able to assure themselves that the life outside the areas controlled by terrorists was normal as well as to persuade their friends, who had taken up arms because of different reasons — either because of fear or because of generous promises made by extremists.