Syrian Border Residents Flee to Turkey

Posted August 16th, 2012 at 4:15 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Hundreds are fleeing the Syrian border town of Azaz after the Syrian military dropped bombs on the rebelled-controlled area.

VOA reporter Scott Bobb reported from Azaz Thursday that the death toll from Wednesday's attack stood at more than 50 people and that at least 25 others were missing amid the chaos to evacuate.

“I saw personally hundreds both on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Some had crossed and then others were held by the Turkish authorities until they could prepare housing for them. But definitely a large number of the residents of Azaz and still residents further to the south are still streaming out.”

Bobb said even the town's last functioning hospital was empty.

“All of the wounded have been evacuated to Turkey. And the reason they did this was the Syrian government military has been bombing hospitals in rebel-held areas. And as a result, these are a hazard. And in fact, the second bomb in Azaz was thought to be meant for the hospital, the only remaining operating hospital in the city.”

The United Nations Security Council announced it is allowing the mandate for the U.N. observer mission in Syria to expire Sunday, but hopes to establish a political office in the battle-ravaged country.

The council's current president, French Ambassador Gerard Araud, says members agreed the conditions for possibly extending the current mission had not been met. U.N. officials estimate that as many as 2.5 million Syrians are in need of assistance because of the violence.

Human Rights Watch visited Azaz Thursday, saying the attack leveled an entire block of houses and may have been targeting two nearby facilities of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Meanwhile, the United States commended the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for suspending Syria from the 57-member bloc of Muslim nations.

In a statement , State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the OIC's decision sends a “strong message” to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and shows the Damascus regime is increasingly isolated.

Security Council vetoes by China and Russia blocked earlier attempts to have the U.N. take on a larger role in the Syrian conflict, and ultimately led to Thursday's decision to withdraw the observers. An Assad adviser now visiting China, Bouthaina Shaaban, praised Beijing and Moscow for their reaction to the crisis in Syria. She said China and Russia – unlike the Western powers – are not acting like “colonizers” in Syria.


“Doctors there, they said they treated 150 wounded officially, but that there were others that were lightly wounded that were not really counted. The death toll is hovering, depending on who you talk to, between 50 and 80 dead and 25 people missing.”