‘It seems as though the planes are following us’

AMMAN: Over the past five years, hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing battles have landed in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Idlib is controlled by the Victory Army (VA), led by Jabhat a-Nusra and Ahrar a-Sham. And while it is a frequent target for airstrikes by both Russia and the Syrian regime, the VA, for the most part, has retained control of the province. Aid groups have difficulty accessing the area, and the scarcities are real, but compared with neighboring Aleppo or Hama provinces, for example, Idlib is less of an active battlefield.

“We fled Mourek (Hama province) to escape airstrikes. We've gone to 11 villages and fled all of them,” a Syrian from Hama province told Syria Direct in this video dispatch from Al-Bayan camp outside Idlib city. More than half of Syria's 6.6 million internally displaced have been displaced more than once, according to REACH, a Swiss NGO.

As clashes and airstrikes drive residents from their homes across Syria, more and more ad hoc camps for the displaced are springing up among the olive groves and wheat fields that mark Idlib's countryside.

“We really are in a hopeless situation,” says one man. “Now it’s Ramadan, and we are exhausted.”


Alaa Nassar

Alaa was forced to flee Damascus with her family because of the pressure from the Syrian regime in 2013. She was a student of Arabic Language & Literature at the University of Damascus. She came to Syria Direct because she hopes to find a new direction in her life and to show the world what is happening in her country.

David Leestma

David Leestma studied International Relations at Grand Valley State University. His studies took him to Lebanon, as well as Morocco and Oman with the Critical Language Scholarship in 2014 and 2015. Before joining Syria Direct as a full time reporter, David interned with Syria Direct as a translator and collaborated with ISW to produce the Syria Situation Report.