Despite the dangers and the risk to life and limb, many Syrian are still taking their chances on the smuggling routes to escape the hell of bombardments and reach a better life.
Efforts to enter Turkey are increasing after every displacement inside northern Syria.
Several networks and groups in the region are working to smuggle people across the Turkish border, while Turkish authorities and border guards have put up a wall to stop the smuggling.
A source from the Turkish border told Zaman al-Wasl that on Saturday, the Turkish gendarmerie found the bodies of eight Syrians, including women and children, near the border with Syria.
The source said that they had died as a result of the severe cold after they lost the road while trying to enter Turkish territory through illegal routes near the town of Kherbet Eljoz near the Turkish border.
Zaman al-Wasl was able to identify one of the victims, a girl from the city of Kafranbel, who died three days leaving for Turkey to meet with her fiancé, and was one of the eight people that were found dead on the border.
In a related context, on Monday evening, Turkish border guards found the bodies of a man and two women who were killed by the cold. The two women were able to be identified, while the identity of the man remains unknown. They were transferred to the university hospital in Turkey.
With tighter security on the Turkish border it is difficult to escape and enter Turkish territory, but human smugglers are becoming more able to exploit these situations and organize themselves as large gangs that control a large part of the Syrian-Turkish border.
“I was forced to enter Turkish territory after I was displaced from Ghouta. I searched for a smuggler to help me, and then one day he asked me for 600 dollars. It was planned for us to cross from the village of Kherbet Eljoz across Nahr Al Asi” said Dhia, who is one of the displaced to northern Syria.
Methods of Smuggling
According to smugglers’ promises on how to secure transit routes, there are three main roads, the day road, the night road and the fog road.
The day time trip is the most expensive, because it does not require those travelling to walk.
The smuggler tells people that he has permission to enter Turkish territory and there is often agreement with the border guard, who takes half the fee, which is normally between 1,800 and 2,500 dollars per person.
Smuggling operations are not daily, but are according to Turkish border guards and their schedules.
The night road is the most common route used by most smugglers, with people being taken daily. The smuggling process takes place at night and it is on foot. The walk takes between six and eight hours, and the roads are rugged and between mountains and mud.
The third way is the fog road, but only at certain times of the year, via the Asi River. The smuggler’s idea is that people will wait for the foggy atmosphere and then cross the Asi River from Syria to Turkey. The thick fog prevents them from being seen and can cost travellers between 1,000 to 1,500 dollars.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.