At the Bab al Salama border crossing, north of Aleppo, thousands of mothers, fathers, children and others stand waiting for the Turkish officials to open the gates to provide them safety from Assad regime and Russian bombardments in their hometowns. Over the past day, Turkish authorities have prevented the Syrians from passing through the border, and more than 10,000 are now stranded at a makeshift internally displaced persons camp at the crossing without access to proper humanitarian services.
The Bab al Salama camp in northern Syria has long been a waiting station for countless Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, providing them safety from bombs but not the basic services found in more established camps, such as those in Turkey. The camp is not sanctioned or funded by any one humanitarian organization. Its tents are often borrowed from organizations in Turkey, and there is only one medical team servicing the roughly 50,000 refugees staying there. Syrians living in the camp have established their own service teams. Men walk through the camp selling nuts and bread, others have opened up a barbor shop in their tents. Still, though, they lack basic goods like blankets and food.
Turkey's senior officials said Friday that as many as 70,000 more Syrians were on their way to the border. If the Turkey does not allow Syrians stranded at the border access to the refugee camps in their country, the Bab al Salama refugee camp will likely overflow.
Scene at Bab al-Salama border crossing, courtesy of the joint-Russian/Syrian gov. Aleppo offensive: pic.twitter.com/ngaKAAMidS
— Ben Taub (@bentaub91) February 5, 2016
Journalists reporting on the situation on the border told International Business Times that the Turkish authorities shot and killed a Syrian child Thursday for trying to cross the border illegally. Meanwhile, Russia accused Turkey of readying to invade Syria after noticing via satellite that its tankers were stationed along the border. Reporters at the border said it looked as though the Turkish authorities were trying to press the Syrians back from the border rather than readying to invade Syria.
The numbers at the border are growing as the shelling in Aleppo, Syria's second-largest city, intensifies. Russia, alongside the Syrian regime under president Bashar Assad, has been bombing opposition forces in Aleppo and its northern countryside for more than a month. The U.S. State Department said Thursday that Russia's military action in Syria continues to support the Assad regime and is not focused on targeting the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
In a video posted on YouTube that shows Syrians fleeing to the border of Turkey, one young boy, frustrated, describes why he and his family decided to flee their home.
"The reason [we are fleeing] is because of the bombings of Russia and Iran and Bashar ... because of the Shiite armies. That is why we are leaving our homes," he said. Several other people interviewed in the video said the reason they are leaving is because of Russian bombs.
The bombings in Aleppo come after the breakdown of political peace talks in Geneva, brokered by the United Nations. The talks were supposed to bring together political factions in Syria to discuss a solution to end the yearslong conflict. The talks broke down after the opposition group walked out earlier this week.
A new report from the Institute of the Study of War, a research group that focuses on military actions in Syria, Russian airpower and Iranian troops on the ground have allowed regime troops to capture a significant amount of ground in Aleppo. The regime is now within five miles of completing the encirclement of the city.