Middle East

Russian airstrikes displace 40,000 in Syria's Aleppo: Sources

Thousands forced to flee homes in Aleppo by Moscow's ongoing air campaign in war-torn Syria, local sources tell Anadolu Agency

Diyar Güldoğan   | 09.02.2016
Russian airstrikes displace 40,000 in Syria's Aleppo: Sources



 Russian airstrikes have recently forced some 40,000 people to flee their homes in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, according to local sources.

Intense Russian air raids have forced numerous Syrians to depart their villages in Aleppo for Syria’s northwestern town of Azaz near the Turkish border, the sources said.

Forced to flee heavy Russian bombardment, Syrians have been moving to more secure areas, with many carrying only a few personal belongings with them.

Struggling to find shelter from the elements, many families -- hoping to keep their children warm -- remain huddled in local mosques and parked cars.

Meanwhile, the less fortunate sleep outside in the freezing cold wrapped in whatever covering they can find.

Khalil Juma, 54, told Anadolu Agency how he and his family had been forced to abandon their home in Aleppo due to the frequent Russian airstrikes.

"We aren’t afraid of either [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad or his army," said Juma. "But these [Russian] warplanes have devastated us."

Juma and his family are currently holed up in an abandoned bus in a tent city dubbed Bab al-Selam.

Mahmoud Hajji Zekour, 82, told a similar story.

"Russian warplanes forced us to flee our homes," he said, adding: "These attacks only appear to occur in regions inhabited by Sunni Muslims."

Russia's air campaign in Syria first began on Sept. 30 of last year.

Moscow claims the campaign is aimed primarily at the Daesh militant group. But Russian warplanes have repeatedly targeted civilian areas and the moderate anti-regime opposition groups that control them.

Syria has remained locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which broke out as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than 250,000 people in Syria have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN figures.

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