Syrian refugees try to return to fight

Audio 02:30
Reuters/Ali Jarekji

Up to 2,000 refugees a day are now reported to be entering Jordan after fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Syria.


Refugees entering Jordan from Syria have reached previously unforeseen numbers - up to 2,000 people a day - fleeing the fighting that has taken over Syria’s southern cities Dara’a and Damascus.

But some are looking to make the opposite journey.

A nondescript looking apartment block in Jordan’s northern town of Irbid, 15 kilometres from the Syrian border, houses eight men and a TV constantly showing news from inside Syria.

Almost all of them have one aim: to return to Syria to fight.

“It’s not right to stay here with the situation in Syria as it is," Rami Awaiti, from just outside Damascus told RFI. "Syria now needs every person, young or old, to go and fight. I don’t mind where I fight: anywhere is the right place.”

Mohammed Adel Tharwan is a teacher from a town near Dara’a and is the commander of a troupe of 100 Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters.

“We stay in touch via Skype, every day," he says. "We talk about what we need in terms of supplies, like money or guns, and I issue them orders. Today’s order was, if you catch anyone assisting the regime, slit their throat as bullets are expensive.”

The Jordanian interior ministry has stated that 1,100 legal applications have been posted for refugees to return. The numbers of illegal attempts are likely to be higher.

“I came to Jordan because I was under surveillance," says Tamer Kaba’ane from Dreef, a small village close to Damascus. "They knew I was protesting: I wanted freedom for Syria. I want to go back because my family is still there, my wife, my two kids and my mother, and I want to help them and to fight for the Syrian people.

"When I left, it was dangerous and I feared for my family due to the level of the regime’s control, but as the FSA gain ground I can get back in safely and I no longer fear for my family because of what I am doing.”

Until now, the Jordanian authorities have welcomed refugees but attempted to avoid openly sheltering anti-Assad groups, as Turkey has. But the men looking to get back in told RFI that they were receiving help from the Jordanian Secret services, the mukhabarat.

“Either you go to the government, the interior ministry, and you apply to go back to Syria," explains Ali Kubai from Damascus. "When they find a safe passage, the Jordanians bring you to the border. The alternative is you find a guide, and you pay them. If the Jordanians catch you, you go to prison for a few days. Then they drive you to the border anyway.”

Anas Saalo from Daa’ra spoke of the urgency to return.

“The real war begins now," he said. "The rebels need all the help they can get, especially young fighters. I know I’m risking my life to go back, but God can decide my fate.”

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