© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Report: Assad Regime Is Laying Landmines Along Syria's Borders

President Bashar Assad's forces have placed landmines "near the borders with Lebanon and Turkey" along routes used by refugees trying to flee the fighting inside Syria, the watchdog group Human Rights Watch reported today.

Saying it has collected "reports and confirmations from witnesses and Syrian deminers," the organization called such actions "unconscionable."

The BBC writes that correspondent Jonathan Head, "reporting from Hatay on the Turkish side of the border with Syria, says he has seen refugees arrive who have lost limbs because of the mines. He says the refugee camp at Hatay, run by the Turkish Red Crescent, is receiving up to 200 refugees a day as they flee the army assault on the city of Idlib and surrounding villages just across the border in Syria."

And it adds that:

"The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says 30,000 have fled abroad while 200,000 are displaced within Syria. The U.N. says more than 8,000 people — many of them women and children — have been killed since the anti-government protests erupted" about a year ago.

Today's report includes an account from a 15-year-old boy who says he lost his right leg to a landmine last month:

"I was in Tel Kalakh when we received a wounded person from Bab Amr [the Homs neighborhood that was under siege by Syrian troops] who is a friend of the family. My brother who is in Lebanon told me to transfer the wounded person to Wadi Khaled. I waited until it was dark outside, and walked across the fields filled with thorns. I was 50 meters away from where the landmines were planted two months ago. My brother and I had seen them laying the landmines. We were sure that no landmines were planted in the area filled with thorn bushes because after putting the landmines we smuggled several people in and outside Tel Kalakh. That is why I decided to cross from there. I think they planted extra landmines. I was less than 50-60 meters away from crossing the border when the landmine exploded. The injured person died and I was severely injured. My brother waiting for me in his car saw the explosion. He put me in the car and drove away."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.