Activists in NW Syria Who Welcomed AANES Aid Now Fear Arrest

AFRIN, Syria (North Press) – Activists in opposition-held areas fear arrest if they talk about the need to accept the aid provided by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) to earthquake-affected areas in northwestern Syria. Many have been threatened by people loyal to the Turkish-backed opposition factions.

Dozens of tankers loaded with fuel and relief aid provided by the AANES are still stuck at the Umm Jloud crossing in the city of Manbij, northern Syria, awaiting the approval of the Syrian opposition factions to enter.

An activist, who preferred not to be named, told North Press that, on Saturday, human rights activists discussed, via WhatsApp groups, the possibility of letting the aid stuck at the Umm Jloud crossing in Manbij pass.

However, the activist pointed out that those WhatsApp groups of activists and humanitarian workers in northwestern Syria also contain people affiliated with or loyal to the Turkish-backed authorities.

He added that online quarrels have broken out on social media between those who oppose the entry of the aid convoys and those who want them to enter to help those afflicted by the earthquake that struck the region on Feb. 6.

One of the Turkish-backed factions’ affiliates wrote, in response to the request for aid to enter, “If you want aid, go and live among them,” which in turn raised the fears of activists of being arrested.

“There is great concerns that security forces will arrest us later if we talk about our desire to accept humanitarian aid provided by the AANES,” the activist told North Press.

Activists speaking to North Press underlined that there is no room for political differences during the ongoing crisis, as there is a great need for aid provided by any party.

The earthquake’s death toll reached 3.581 in Syria on Saturday night.

Thousands of families are still sleeping out in the open, without shelter or food, in the streets and cars away from buildings and homes.

Reporting by Farouq Hamo