Journalists’ Pocket book: The 2d Everything Changed In Syria – NPR
Mohammed Sheikho and his family fled heavy fighting in their town of Tel Abyad, Syria, and had been on the run for three days trying to reach safety in Iraq, when NPR encountered them in northeastern Syria on Sunday. Daniel Estrin/NPR hide caption toggle caption Daniel Estrin/NPR Mohammed Sheikho and his family fled heavy fighting…

Mohammed Sheikho and his household fled heavy fighting of their town of Tel Abyad, Syria, and had been on the speed for three days attempting to reach security in Iraq, when NPR encountered them in northeastern Syria on Sunday.

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Mohammed Sheikho and his household fled heavy fighting of their town of Tel Abyad, Syria, and had been on the speed for three days attempting to reach security in Iraq, when NPR encountered them in northeastern Syria on Sunday.

Daniel Estrin/NPR

Our limited NPR reporting team arrived in Syria factual in time to contain a study a historical 2nd in the long-running civil battle. But we did not explain we would want to dawdle out so hasty.

It used to be Sunday. Easiest per week sooner than, President Trump had ordered some U.S. troops to exit aspects of northeast Syria, making manner for Turkey to originate an offensive towards Syrian Kurdish forces controlling the characteristic. The day we arrived, the Kurdish forces invited the Syrian govt to retake the territory and fend off the Turkish invasion.

Because the Syrian govt defense drive good, we found ourselves among varied journalists and abet workers scrambling to scramble, fearing arrest by the regime — and leaving in the abet of the Syrians we had met who had no easy manner out.

Entering Syria took hours. On the border crossing in Faysh Khabur, northwestern Iraq, we processed paperwork with Iraqi Kurdish officials and sipped Qazwan coffee, a Kurdish hot drink with notes of pistachio, with the border supervisor we loved to call the Vast Responsible, as he used to be nicknamed in Arabic. Then we shuttled across a rickety bridge over the Tigris river into northeastern Syria.

We rapidly saw a local journalist in tears. Her Kurdish fighter fair correct friend had factual been killed in battle.

Crossing the bridge over the Tigris river into Syria from Iraqi Kurdistan.

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Crossing the bridge over the Tigris river into Syria from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Daniel Estrin/NPR

Our driver Hamoudi picked us up in a desirable white van with a vehicle plate with Kurdish, Assyrian and Arabic written in pink, a tag of the range of this corner of Syria. (He doesn’t need his plump name historical to abet far off from grief if the Syrian regime takes over his characteristic and discovers that he worked with journalists.) His stuffed gorilla named Zizo rode on the dashboard. Zizo has accompanied Hamoudi for five years, witnessing the upward push and descend of ISIS in this portion of Syria, and he would join us in this most as a lot as date chapter of the battle in Syria.

We drove past oil rigs and cows grazing in yellowed fields. Pickup vans sat roadside, packed with stacks of vibrant mattresses, baggage of eggplants and tomatoes, and youthful ladies who seek files from mighty older than their age. We pulled over.

A 70-year-out of the ordinary man with a weathered face, Mohammed Sheikho, used to be along with his siblings and their families. They’d fled heavy fighting of their town of Tel Abyad, Syria, and had been on the speed for three days, sleeping in the barren teach, attempting to reach security in Iraq. They’d no longer have the option to disagreeable the border for lack of the becoming documents.

He used to be pondering of these he left in the abet of. “My sons are stuck in Kobani,” a Syrian city below Turkish bombardment with roads lower off, “they’re surrounded,” Sheikho said, and wiped away his tears with the headscarf on his head. He then drove off to safe a characteristic to sleep for the night time.

It is imperfect to look for a grandfather instruct. It would no longer be the obedient time we witnessed that on our day out.

The Syrian town of Derik is ready a half-hour drive from the Iraqi border and some hours’ drive far off from the set Turkish-backed troops are pummeling Syrian Kurdish forces, as U.S. troops slowly withdraw.

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The Syrian town of Derik is ready a half-hour drive from the Iraqi border and some hours’ drive far off from the set Turkish-backed troops are pummeling Syrian Kurdish forces, as U.S. troops slowly withdraw.

Daniel Estrin/NPR

We reached the Syrian town of Derik, a pair of half-hour drive from the Iraqi border and some hours from areas the set Turkish-backed troops had been pummeling Syrian Kurdish forces, as U.S. troops hasty withdraw. Derik is actually apt an greater-heart class town. The town is identified for its homegrown musicians, in line with Sangar Khaleel, a Kurdish journalist who used to be our guide. They’re throaty singers with the “narrate of the mountains,” he said. No one used to be singing that night time.

Earlier than sunset, we took a drive around town. Marriage ceremony halls and some eating areas had been closed as battles raged nearby. Some Kurdish officers had been constructing scaffolding in the avenue. A man in fatigues said they had been making a veil to abet troop actions hidden from Turkish drones, expecting the battle coming to their town. We puzzled how this contraption would supply protection to them from a forceful opponent.

Blue chocolates adorned with limited one collectible figurines are offered to traffic at limited one Hanna’s baptism.

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Blue chocolates adorned with limited one collectible figurines are offered to traffic at limited one Hanna’s baptism.

Daniel Estrin/NPR

Completely different aspects of life persevered. Outfitters had been start. Formative years played soccer in the avenue. A pair of girls ate sunflower seeds on their front stoop.

We noticed a church and injure up crashing a baptism. Small one Hanna, factual a pair of months out of the ordinary, cried whereas ladies trilled in birthday celebration. Priests in gowns with golden embroidery dunked him in a marble basin of holy water. They chanted prayers in earlier Aramaic. A relative offered us runt blue chocolates adorned with limited one collectible figurines. It used to be Sunday, and the priest said he entreated his apprehensive congregation to lean on their faith for comfort. Turkish shelling had hit nearby villages the night time sooner than.

All this chaos started after the White Home’s Oct. 6 announcement that NATO-member Turkey used to be in a position to originate an offensive into northern Syria and some U.S. defense drive personnel would stand apart. The U.S. troops had been stationed there in abet of Syrian Kurdish forces in the battle towards ISIS and the U.S. presence used to be a buffer towards Turkey. The Turkish govt considers the Kurdish forces as portion of an insurgency threatening its nationwide security.

The day we entered the nation, as Turkey’s offensive intensified, President Trump said the U.S. would pulling all its troops out of northeast Syria.

“Trump came to supply protection to us. But the day someone came to hit us, he pulled out,” said the limited one’s grandfather, Mikhael Yousef Issa. “It be betrayal for the total characteristic, no longer factual for Christians. What impacts you, impacts me. The bullets are falling upon us all.”

The 65-year-out of the ordinary with a white mustache gave us cake and Coca Cola and invited us to shield at his dwelling, even “for 300 and sixty five days.” This hospitality is no longer odd. Thousands of Syrians who contain fled the fighting are sleeping at kin’ homes far off from the front traces.

We stopped at a tobacco shop. The proprietor had a dilapidated tattoo of a girl’s face and the be aware “like” in English on his forearm. He used to be chain-smoking along with his chums and shouting at the tv. The records confirmed stretchers and bloodied Syrian Kurds in a town about three hours away.

“We’re looking at in account for to know when to scramble,” he said. Then he asked us: You are journalists, you instruct me, when could perchance presumably accumulated we drag away?

We puzzled the set he could perchance presumably even drag. The Iraqi border is closed to most refugees, and his town is one amongst the quietest in the characteristic.

Journalists huddled around a TV at our lodge when the files broke. Alliances on the ground all at present shifted. The Kurdish forces invited the Syrian regime to recapture the characteristic. The Syrian defense drive launched it could perchance presumably retake the total length of the nation’s border with Turkey, which lets all explore from our lodge windows.

Grandfather Issam kisses his grandson Rayan goodbye sooner than the 4-year-out of the ordinary left to enter Iraq. Issam did not contain papers to disagreeable. “Separation has killed the of us. It be destroyed a skills. War is with out a cause,” Issam said, crying.

Cecilia Uddén


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Cecilia Uddén

Grandfather Issam kisses his grandson Rayan goodbye sooner than the 4-year-out of the ordinary left to enter Iraq. Issam did not contain papers to disagreeable. “Separation has killed the of us. It be destroyed a skills. War is with out a cause,” Issam said, crying.

Cecilia Uddén

We walked down the avenue out of doors our lodge and met Syrian Kurds relieved about the files.

They said they most smartly-most popular President Assad, although his regime has restricted the Kurds’ rights, to their better rivals, Turkey and its Syrian Arab mercenaries, whom Kurds said they dismay will extinguish or expel them. But a 19-year-out of the ordinary barber said he used to be skittish of being drafted into the regime’s military and puzzled if he’ll need to soar.

Regime forces had been hasty advancing towards towns in the characteristic, and there had been rumors they would perchance presumably be taking on the border crossing with Iraq. We had entered Syria with permission from Kurdish authorities, no longer the Syrian regime. None of us wanted to lastly discontinue up in a Damascus penal complex. At 12:forty one p.m., a colleague commended us he heard the regime would resolve sign of the border at Three p.m.

Hamoudi rushed us to the border, simplest slowing for a bunch of geese crossing the avenue. Empty vans had been driving in the reverse direction after handing over world abet workers to the border. For days, abet workers had been burning their documents in steel containers, expecting the return of regime forces and destroying evidence of who had been in Syria.

We shared the high-tail to the border crossing with a Swedish radio correspondent, Cecilia Uddén, who has coated the teach for years. She reminisced about the Syrians she has interviewed through the years, fair like a female pick presiding over ISIS trials. “It be poor to be leaving of us in the abet of,” she said.

On the border, a shuttle bus came to resolve us abet over the rickety bridge to the Kurdistan teach of Iraq. As we had been boarding, a 4-year-out of the ordinary boy on the bus kissed his grandfather goodbye via the window.

“Grandpa, come on the bus with us. Why don’t appear to be you coming with us?” the younger boy, Rayan, asked.

His grandfather, who gave his name as Issam, did not contain the Iraqi residency papers wanted to disagreeable.

“I’m going to miss you so mighty,” Rayan said. “Grandpa, we can focus on on video chat every single day, OK?”

“Separation. Separation. Separation has killed the of us. It be destroyed a skills. War is with out a cause,” Issam commended us, crying.

His grandson obtained off the bus and tugged at his grandfather’s shirt. “I may meet you later,” Issam said.

Then Issam commended us he did not know when he would.