| 5.2°C Dublin

Fleeing Syrians play cat and mouse along the border

Hundreds of men and boys have taken to the Syrian hills around the town of Jisr al-Shughour, fleeing the scorched-earth tactics of the Assad regime's tanks and militias.

More than 10,000 Syrians have fled the repression of opposition led by President Bashar al-Assad and his brother, Maher, the United Nations said.

But many more are playing a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with the armies on both sides of the border as they seek refuge as well as food and supplies for their families.

Reports from Jisr al-Shughour, which was recaptured by Syrian forces last weekend, said 16 bodies had been found during the day.

This week the army moved into surrounding villages, making more arrests and burning crops, locals said.

Those who did not make it over the border were camping out on the Syrian side on Monday night. A journalist was escorted by scores of these men who were desperate to retain a foothold in Syria but too scared to go to their homes.

Old men and boys as young as seven wound their way back along smugglers' paths into Syria, walking and jogging in single file. "Assad -- donkey, donkey," said one young boy in reference to the Syrian leader. "We want our freedom and we want peace," added an old man.

They know that if they officially cross into Turkey they will be corralled inside the camps, and will lose their chance to return home. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent