Politimenn som skyter på hverandre. Soldater som river av seg uniformen. Agenter som halshogger sivile. Det er noe av hva syrere som flykter til Tyrkia beretter.
As more than 2,400 Syrians streamed across the open Turkish borders on Thursday ahead of tanks and troops who surrounded their hometown, they brought with them the first accounts of a week of revolt, mutiny and mayhem in Jisr al-Shughour. The streets were deserted, leaving no resistance against a regime equipped for all-out battle.
Even safe in Turkish camps 12 miles (20 kilometers) away, the Syrians said they feared the authoritarian government’s reach and refused to allow their full names to be used.
A young man who identified himself as Rami said the Syrian reinforcements were mobilized in response to a mutiny among police and soldiers, sharply divided over how to disperse the protesters.
«It all started with the killing of two protesters a week ago, then policemen who refused orders from the Alawite police chief to fire on civilians clashed at the Emin Asqari police station,» Rami said through an interpreter. Other Syrians nodded or interrupted with more details. Syria’s ruling elite, including the Assads, belong to the minority Alawite sect.
«Then, some soldiers deserted also after refusing to fire on the protesters, some took off their uniforms, left their weapons and ran away with their families,» added Rami, a skinny 22-year-old who was studying at a university in Jisr al-Shughour to become a math teacher. «Two helicopters also fired randomly on civilians as well as houses that triggered the exodus.»
Rami said he can’t reach many of his friends.
«I fear for their lives,» said Rami. «Assad’s forces beheaded three young men from Latakia when they said they were going to Turkey. We buried them yesterday in a village across the border.»
The struggle over Jisr al-Shughour and the surrounding Idlib province is a critical test for the 40-year Assad regime, which has said «armed groups» killed 120 security forces in the area this week.
Regimets løgner begynner å bli stadig mer tynnslitt. Det vakte en viss oppsikt da det påsto at 120 sikkerhetssoldater var skutt, men siden har påstanden blitt plukket fra hverandre.
Det er Reem Haddad som nå fronter regimet i utenlandske medier. Igår påsto hun overfor BBC at syrerne ikke flyktet til Tyrkia, de dro for å besøke slektninger.
En tilsvarende vanvittig påstand var den om sikkerhetsstyrkene kun skyter i selvforsvar.
«The only instance where security forces have fired is when they have been fired at,» Reem Haddad told Britain’s Sky News. «How have these people been killed for goodness sake if no one is firing at them?»
Jisr al-Shughour emptied as its residents crossed olive groves and traveled gravel roads, trying to get away from the tanks and elite forces believed to be led by Assad’s younger brother, Maher, residents and an activist said. Turkey’s foreign minister said 2,400 Syrians had crossed the border.
«It is virtually a ghost town now,» said Rami. «Almost everyone fled mostly toward nearby villages, but many more are prepared to cross into Turkey if Assad’s forces start hunting them.»
A man who stayed behind in Jisr al-Shughour confirmed that the town was all but empty, and people in a nearby village warned that hundreds of soldiers were massing, along with 27 tanks and 50 armored personnel carriers.