Life welcomes you with shells: Five-day-old baby displaced by Turkish shelling in Syria

DERIK, Syria (North Press) – Halima Khidr is concerned about the fate of her infant boy and other two sons after the family was displaced to Newroz camp, near the city of Derik in far northeast Syria due to Turkish shelling on the towns of Tel Tamr and Abu Rasin in August.

The infant was only five days old when a shell fell on his uncle’s house, next to theirs in Tel Tamr town, north of Hasakah.

The mother said that the shells that awakened them that night pushed them to flee along with two of their children, forgetting the new born baby, who the father later had to return home and rescue.

In mid-August, the towns of Tel Tamr and Abu Rasin and their countryside were subjected to violent Turkish bombardments which killed and wounded dozens.

Most of the families that fled the area were previously displaced due to the Turkish invasion of Sere Kaniye and Tel Abyad in 2019.

Chapters of never-ended war

Halima said that she did not know that her infant Anas would live a life of displacement starting at only five days old, to suffer the harshness of life in a camp that lacks many of the most basic necessities of life.

“Because of the shelling and strikes, we forgot our child at home, where my husband went and brought him,” Halima said.

“Two shells targeted us; one targeted my brother’s house and the other one targeted our house. Thank God nobody died then.”

Amid great panic after shrapnel struck her middle child in the shoulder, Halima decided to leave the area.

The Turkish bombardment affected local infrastructure, most notably the water and electricity networks and stations, which were cut off from dozens of villages.

Local civil and military authorities held Russia and the US responsible for the instability of the region, as they are the guarantors of the ceasefire agreements signed with Turkey.

On August 21, the Syriac Military Council demanded in a statement that Russia “play a more effective role in the cessation of hostilities in the de-escalation zone and take positive position over the Turkish violations including shelling of civilians, civil and education institutions which violate the international convictions.”

The Tel Tamr area is one of the most diverse in the northeast of the country, and is home to Arabs, Kurds, and most notably a once-thriving Assyrian community, most of which have fled since the start of the war. The region is also home to many displaced people who have been living in the area since 2019.

On the August 26, Halima’s family arrived at Newroz camp in the Derik countryside.

Two weeks ago, 61 families who fled the Turkish bombardment on Tel Tamr, Zarkan, and their affiliated villages arrived in Derik, where the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) transferred them to Newroz camp.

The number of displaced families in Newroz Camp has reached 411, including 1,880 people, according to the camp relations official Nadim Omar.

Although Halima’s family is now safe from the Turkish shells, they now face new challenges, most notably how to provide for and raise their children in an environment with so few resources.

Poor care and helpless infants

Anas is now nearly one month old, and is suffering from the heat inside the tent, while his mother is worried about his needs and those of his brothers.

573 babies in Newroz camp under the age of two share Anas’ struggle.

The Save the Children organization provides the basic needs of IDPs, while the Kurdish Red Crescent provides healthcare, according to the camp administration.

Halima mourns for her old life in the village of Khirbet al-Souda, in the countryside of Tel Tamr, as they had a house there, although they used to leave it on many nights whenever the bombing intensified during the past two years.

She also said that her husband has become unemployed, so “securing a livelihood has become difficult here.”

New arrivals to Newroz camp complain about the lack of aid and its insufficiency, especially food, according to previous testimonies given by the displaced to North Press.

Newroz Camp was reopened during the Turkish attack on the areas of Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tel Abyad in 2019. It is home to 715 families, consisting of 3,420 individuals.

IDP camps in northeastern Syria suffer from a scarcity of UN humanitarian aid, as the UN can only provide aid to camps officially registered with the Damascus government, amid the continued closure of the Tel Kocher (al-Yarubiyah) crossing due to the Russian veto at the United Nations that rejected its opening.

Although the frequency of shelling on the areas of Tel Tamr and Abu Rasin decreased this month, it is still targeting inhabited villages there.

Halima is still communicating with her relatives in the village, who told her that the shelling is still frequent in the area, which makes it difficult for her to return to her home now.

Reporting by Solnar Muhammad

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