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Smuggling From Syria’s Idleb to Turkey: Displaced Between Turkish Bullets and Smugglers’ Extortion

Some residents living in northwestern Syria continue to spend vast sums of money and risk their lives, to cross over the border into Turkey reports North Press.
Smuggling From Syria’s Idleb to Turkey: Displaced Between Turkish Bullets and Smugglers’ Extortion

Many IDPs in the Idleb countryside have no option but to use smugglers to enter Turkey, which they see as a place of refuge that can save their families from daily non-stop military confrontations and instability, in addition to deteriorating living conditions.

However, many who try to enter the Turkish lands across the Syrian-Turkish border to the north of Idleb face difficulties and dangers, such as exploitation by smugglers and being targeted with live ammunition by Turkish forces.

Dozens of people, including entire families, cross daily in search of work and a safe place, especially with the recently deteriorating living conditions, lack of work opportunities, and the absence of support from humanitarian organizations for the displaced in northern Idleb. 

Ahmad Murad, a displaced person from Hama countryside and resident of the Qah camps to the north of Idleb, said that he sold his car to pay to smugglers to bring him and his family to Turkey in order to work and live in safety. 

Murad said that, “entering Turkey was not easy. We tried to enter Turkish territory across the border to the northwest of Idleb with the help of one of the smugglers. But the so-called border guards affiliated with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham prevented us because we didn’t have a permit, which costs 50 dollars for each family member.” 

“I did not have enough cash, because I had paid the smuggler 650 dollars for each member of my family, which forced us to return to the camps,” Murad added. 

Abu Hamed, a smuggler on the border north of Idleb, said that, “the border guards work with smugglers, and they charge 50 dollars per person to enter illegally; they force the smuggler to return the money if the smuggling operation fails.”

“Tahrir al-Sham has become responsible for holding smugglers accountable for their mishandling of people, and thus plays the role of an insurance company,” he added. 

Smuggler Abu Hamid said that he takes 700 dollars per person for a normal smuggling, which relies on surreptitiously crossing the borders. And for the guaranteed smuggling, the price ranges between 1,800 dollars and 2,000 dollars, after an agreement has been made with the alternating Turkish patrols to allow people to enter in return for a share of the money.”

Those fleeing the deteriorating security and living conditions in northern Idleb are subjected to gunfire and killing by the Turkish border guards while trying to enter Turkey, in addition to the many cases of exploitation by the smugglers.

Mahmoud Ammar told North Press that he tried to cross into Turkey a month ago, but failed three times. During these attempts, he was beaten and humiliated by the Turkish border guards, who also shot directly at those trying to cross the border, despite the presence of children and women. 

He added, “They took us at night to a football stadium near the Turkish city of Rihaniyya, and there we were severely beaten by the Turkish gendarmerie, in addition to unleashing dogs on us inside the stadium.”

Amar says now that “even if I could become wealthy in Turkey, I will not go anymore.”


This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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