The Jerusalem Post: What it’s like on the ground helping Syrians fleeing Idlib

16 February 2020



Excerpt from the article:

As hundreds of thousands fled fighting in northern Syria between the Syrian regime and extremist groups, a small faith-based group stepped in to provide basic essentials to some of those in need.

The Free Burma Rangers had seen scenes like this before over the years helping people in Iraq and Syria. Last year they were in eastern Syria when Turkey attacked the partly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. Now they are near Manbij, west of the Euphrates in Syria helping people from Idlib. 

“The US should help the SDF establish a humanitarian corridor from Idlib to the SDF region, and that would save lives and restore trust in the US in the region,” saids Dave Eubank, a leader of the Free Burma Rangers. The group takes its name from Myanmar, where it also provides aid. Currently the US is partnered with the SDF in the fight against ISIS in Syria, and the US has supported Turkey’s role in Idlib where Turkish forces were recently killed by Russian-backed Syrian-regime shelling. Northern Syria is a complex place with numerous groups and sides. There are Russian flags, Syrian flags, the SDF, Turkish troops, Syrian rebels, Americans, remnants of Islamic State and al-Qaeda and other groups. For Eubank and his colleagues like Paul Curtis Bradley, the main issue is to help civilians. 

People who fled Idlib generally fled north toward the Turkish border. But Turkey isn’t letting in more refugees. It already hosts almost four million Syrians. So some of the displaced, often people who have seen nine years of war in Syria, fled via Turkish-controlled areas around al-Bab and Jarabulus to Manbij. For the civilians it can be more than a day of driving along a circuitous route that takes them north of the Syrian-regime controlled area of Aleppo past many checkpoints 160 km. to Manbij.

Read the full article here.