Airstrikes Push Syrians to Refugee Camps in Jordan
The five Jamous brothers were early recruits to the Free Syrian Army, eager to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
But two weeks ago, Mr. Assad’s air force began hitting their tiny village with new force, destroying houses and killing residents. With at least three brothers wounded and their own home destroyed, the Jamouses finally handed their Russian rifles to fellow rebels and fled, vowing to deliver their wives and passel of small children to the safety of a desolate refugee camp here in the Jordanian desert before returning to battle.
“We tried to keep fighting but we can’t keep up,” said Mahmoud Jamous, 27, standing with his clan, “so we are here.”
They joined a sudden and unexpected exodus of as many as 20,000 Syrians who have poured across the border from the province around Dara’a, the birthplace and symbolic heart of the Syrian uprising. The refugees describe burned-out villages all but emptied of residents. Some say their villages were deprived of power, water and communication for weeks before they left, or that graffiti scrawled after the shelling warned those who had fled not to return. Aid workers here who interviewed the refugees suggest there was a deliberate attempt to drive out any civilians who might sympathize with the rebels.
“The thinking may be, this is where it started, this is where it is going to finish,” one aid worker said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid entanglement in the conflict.