ALEPPO, Syria (North Press) – Numbers of people trying to flee with their lives is increasing through smuggling networks in the northern countryside of Aleppo due to military escalation and the lack of job opportunities.
Turkish forces brought reinforcements of dozens of vehicles to the de-escalation zones in northwestern Syria, amid continued escalation by Syrian government forces (SAA) while they continue to target several areas in Idlib’s southern countryside, and the villages of western Aleppo.
Khaled Ghazal, a displaced person from eastern Ghouta who lives in the town of Kaljabrin in the western countryside of Aleppo, told North Press that military operations carried out by SAA and Turkish-backed opposition groups at the beginning of this year.
“That is why I lost my job and there were no job opportunities left, so I decided to travel to Turkey through the available smuggling routes.” Khaled added.
He pointed out that the smugglers, who were in the Akidam area adjacent to the Turkish city of Kilis, had several methods of smuggling which differ in price, time, and the duration which a person reaches safety.
He said, “smuggling in daylight and passing in front of Turkish forces outpost costs 1,500 USD per person, while walking at night or before sunrise costs 600 USD for an adult person, whether a man or a woman, 300 dollars for a child over 15 years, and 200 dollars for a child under the age of ten.”
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the number of Syrian civilians killed by the Turkish forces since the beginning of the war in Syria until May 21, has risen to 449, including 79 children under the age of eighteen and 44 women over the age of 18.
Abu Saleh (a pseudonym), who works as a smuggler in the area, told North Press that the smuggling routes were difficult and several groups whom he smuggled across the border with Kilis were arrested.
He pointed out that he must pick and choose his clients, and he avoided smuggling families for fear of being caught if a child cried or if a woman wasn’t able to walk, a walk which sometimes takes an hour and a half to walk between thorns.
“The density of young men who flock to the borders as a result of the lack of work opportunities will guarantee a good sum during the month to pay the house rent in Kilis,” he said.
According to residents from the region, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls the crossing points in the northern countryside of Aleppo, collects 200 USD per person to cross to Turkey, but the amount is not received until after the individual reaches the other side.
HTS also obliges every smuggler to pay 200 USD for each person whose travel has been secured, according to a source from the city of Azaz in northern countryside of Aleppo.