Displaced Syrians wary of coronavirus risk return to war-torn Idlib
By Khalil Ashawi IDLIB, Syria (Reuters) - Thousands of displaced Syrians have begun moving back to their homes in war-torn Idlib province despite the risk of renewed conflict, some driven by fear that the new coronavirus could wreak havoc on crowded camps near the Turkish border. About one million Syrians fled Idlib and its surrounding countryside in northwest Syria this past year after Russian-backed government forces stepped up a campaign to retake the last rebel stronghold after nine years of war
coronavirus risk return to war-torn Idlib" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/themes/firstpost/images/220x220_Watermark.jpg" alt="Displaced Syrians wary of coronavirus risk return to wartorn Idlib" width="300" height="225" />
By Khalil Ashawi
IDLIB, Syria (Reuters) - Thousands of displaced Syrians have begun moving back to their homes in war-torn Idlib province despite the risk of renewed conflict, some driven by fear that the new coronavirus could wreak havoc on crowded camps near the Turkish border.
About one million Syrians fled Idlib and its surrounding countryside in northwest Syria this past year after Russian-backed government forces stepped up a campaign to retake the last rebel stronghold after nine years of war.
Fighting has calmed since March when Ankara, which backs some groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, agreed a ceasefire with Moscow, which has supported Damascus with heavy air power.
Syria's northwest does not yet have a confirmed case of coronavirus , but doctors fear the area's ravaged medical infrastructure and overflowing camps would quickly turn any outbreak into a humanitarian disaster.
As the tentative peace holds, displaced Syrians are weighing up grim options: remain in tightly packed camps with few services where a viral spread could be lethal, or return to homes still at risk of getting caught in renewed bloodshed.
"Our lives go from danger to danger as we flee from bombing, the regime, and conflict, to overcrowding and coronavirus ," said Abu Abdo, 45. On Sunday Abdu returned with his family of seven to a village in Idlib's countryside.
"Here it's agricultural land and the air is clean and there's no congestion, but it's still a dangerous area," he said.
Vans and trucks stacked with mattresses and household appliances choked a road snaking south through Idlib province on Sunday as families driven out just months earlier by air strikes sought to return.
"We fear there will be a regime escalation again but life in the town, in our home, is better than displacement and poor conditions," said Fayez al-Assi, 49, who fled Jabal al-Zawiya in Idlib's southern countryside two and a half months ago.
The Syrian Response Coordination Group, a northwest Syria relief agency, said 103,459 Syrians had returned to towns in the Aleppo and Idlib countryside since the ceasefire.
"Even if there is bombing we aren't afraid of it. We've gotten used to it," said Zakaria Shawish, 25, from the town of Ariha, south of Idlib. "Sitting here under the bombing is better than being displaced in the camps and not having a home."
(Reporting by Khalil Ashawi; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Giles Elgood)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police used teargas and water cannon to disperse people who had gathered in central Athens on Saturday to protest against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. More than 4,000 people rallied outside the Greek parliament for a third time this month to oppose mandatory inoculations for some workers, such as healthcare and nursing staff.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Two Turkish soldiers were killed and two were wounded in an attack on their armoured vehicle in northern Syria, and Turkish forces immediately launched retaliatory fire, Turkey's defence ministry said on Saturday. "Our punitive fire against terrorist positions is continuing," the statement on Twitter on said. It did not specify where the attack occurred, but media reports said it was in the al-Bab area.
By Marcelo Rochabrun SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Protesters took to the streets in several Brazilian cities on Saturday to demand the impeachment of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose popularity has fallen in recent weeks amid corruption scandals against the backdrop of the pandemic. This week, news broke that Brazil's defense ministry told congressional leadership that next year's elections would not take place without amending the country's electronic voting system to include a paper trail of each vote. Bolsonaro has suggested several times without evidence that the current system is prone to fraud, allegations that Brazil's government has denied