U.N. says around 350,0000 people have fled Syria’s Idlib since Dec. 1

AMMAN (Reuters) – Around 350,000 Syrians, mostly women and children, have been displaced by a renewed Russian-backed offensive in the opposition-held Idlib province since early December, and have sought shelter in border areas near Turkey, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest situation report that the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate as a result of the “escalating” hostilities.

Russian jets and Syrian artillery have pounded towns and villages in recent weeks in a renewed assault backed by pro-Iranian militias that aimed at clearing the opposition.

“This latest wave of displacement compounds an already dire humanitarian situation on the ground in Idlib,” David Swanson, Amman-based U.N. regional spokesman for Syria, told Reuters.

Russian and Syrian jets resumed bombing of civilian areas in the opposition enclave two days after a ceasefire agreed between Turkey and Russia formally took effect on Sunday.

U.N. officials said earlier this month the humanitarian crisis had worsened with thousands of civilians on the run in Idlib province on top of close to 400,000 people who fled earlier bouts of fighting to the safety of camps near the Turkish border.

The latest offensive has brought the Russian-steered military campaign closer to heavily populated parts of Idlib province, where nearly 3 million people are trapped, according to the United Nations.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Toby Chopra)

‘They want to kill you’: Anger at Syrians erupts in Istanbul

Syrian shopkeeper Ahmed is pictured at his shop in Istanbul's Kucukcekmece district, Turkey, July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

By Sarah Dadouch

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – At 2 am, one Saturday night, Syrian brothers Mustafa and Ahmed were at home hunched over a screen watching live black and white security camera footage of men destroying their clothes shop in Istanbul.

They watched as a small group of Turkish men broke their glass storefront, ripped up Arabic leaflets and signs and set them alight. A few men stood back and stared up at the camera before a hand flashed in front of it and destroyed it, and the screen went black.

Mustafa, 22, and Ahmed, 21, frantically called a Turkish grocer who runs the store next door, to tell him they were on their way to the shop to stop it being burned down. “He told us: Don’t come, they want to kill you,” said Ahmed.

Syrian shopkeeper Mustafa is pictured at his clothes shop in Istanbul's Kucukcekmece district, Turkey, July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

Syrian shopkeeper Mustafa is pictured at his clothes shop in Istanbul’s Kucukcekmece district, Turkey, July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

Their store and other Syrian properties were targeted in the Kucukcekmece district of western Istanbul on the night of Saturday, June 29, one of the occasional bouts of violence which Syrians say erupt against them in Turkey’s largest city.

Such large-scale clashes are rare, with only one other big attack happening this year, also in western Istanbul, in February. Small incidents are more frequently shared by Syrians on social media, and some fear tensions are on the rise.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the Kucukcekmece attackers, but not before they destroyed many of the district’s Syrian stores and tore down Arabic signs.

The area has one of the higher concentrations of Syrians in the city, and Arabic signs are commonplace for shops’ local Syrian customers.

Mustafa and Ahmed waited until the crowd thinned out, and then went back. “We couldn’t go until 5 or 6 in the morning. We emptied out half the merchandise, and waited a couple of days until things calmed down.”

“SYRIANS, GET OUT”

Turkey hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, the largest population of Syrians displaced by the 8-year civil war, and Istanbul province alone has over half a million, according to Turkey’s interior ministry.

Turkey’s own stumbling economy and rising unemployment has fueled anger against their presence, and many are resented by Turks as cheap labor taking over jobs and using services.

That has led President Tayyip Erdogan’s government, which opened its borders to Syrians when the conflict first erupted in 2011, to increasingly highlight the number of Syrians it says have returned to northern Syrian areas now controlled by Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies.

Last week, state-owned Anadolu Agency said nearly 80,000 Syrians returned in the first half of 2019. That number is still only a small fraction of the refugee population in Turkey, many of whom aim to build a new life in Turkey.

Erdogan’s political opponents have criticized him for allowing in so many refugees, and even the new opposition mayor of Istanbul – who campaigned on a ticket of inclusiveness – has said Turks are suffering because of the Syrian influx.

“We will make an effort to create a basis for Syrian migrants to return to their homeland, their free homeland,” Ekrem Imamoglu told Reuters last month.

“Otherwise, we will have some security concerns that would really trouble us all, and there would be street clashes.”

On the night that Imamoglu won the mayoralty, a hashtag spread across social media – “Suriyeliler Defoluyor”, roughly meaning “Syrians, Get Out”.

BROKEN SIGNS, DOORS AND CAMERAS

On June 30, a few blocks away from the brothers’ shop, two Syrians who work next door to each other at a gold store and an electronics shop heard that a mob was attacking Syrian shops.

“We packed up quickly and left,” one of the electronics shop employees, who asked for his name not be used, told Reuters a few days after the incident.

Speaking Arabic with an Aleppo accent, he waved his hand at the empty glass case in front of him. “I usually have phones displayed here, but until now we’re a bit afraid. We’re not showcasing our merchandise because the situation isn’t stable.”

The mob destroyed the gold store’s glass storefront, despite the metal shutters that were drawn down. The electronics shop’s security camera, signs and lights were smashed.

Days later, the signs remained broken. The shopkeepers plan to put up new signs in Turkish, both to protect themselves and because Istanbul’s governor announced last week that shops must ensure at least 75% of signage is in Turkish, not Arabic.

Following the Kucukcekmece attack, Istanbul’s police headquarters said they captured five suspects linked to social media accounts that put out the hashtags “Syrians Get Out” and “I Don’t Want Syrians in My Country”.

Police also said an investigation found a messaging group with 58 members was responsible for inciting the clashes in Kucukcekmece, and 11 members have been detained as investigations continue. Syrians expressed relief that police were acting.

“We are staying, we can’t give up or anything,” said Mustafa. “We can’t close up, how would we live?”

Most shopkeepers said they hoped that things will not get worse and that changing their signs to Turkish will ease tension. Some said the clashes were occasional waves of anger which did not represent how most Turks feel toward Syrians.

“Here it’s like a volcano: every five or six months we have an explosion,” said one customer.

(Reporting by Sarah Dadouch; Additional reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans and Alexandra Hudson)

Trump says to make fast decision after suspected Syrian chemical attack

A girl looks on following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters TV via REUTERS

By Steve Holland and Suleiman Al-Khalidi

WASHINGTON/AMMAN (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday condemned a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town in Syria that killed dozens of people and said he would decide on a response probably by the end of the day.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Trump said he was talking to military leaders and would decide who was responsible for what he called a “heinous attack” on innocent Syrians — whether it was Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Iran, or all of them together.

“We’ll be making that decision very quickly probably by the end of the day. But we cannot allow atrocities like that,” Trump said. “Nothing is off the table,” he said, when asked if U.S. military action was a possibility.

Asked if there was any doubt over who was responsible for the attack, Trump said: “To me there’s not much of a doubt but the generals will figure it out probably over the next 24 hours.”

International bodies led by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were also trying to establish exactly what happened on Saturday in Douma, a besieged town in eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

The Syrian government and its ally Russia have denied involvement in the attack.

U.S. government sources said on Monday that the administration’s initial assessment suggested that a nerve agent was used but further evidence was needed to determine what specifically it was.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also said earlier he would not rule out military action such as air strikes if blame was proven. He accused Russia of falling short on its obligations to ensure that Syria abandoned its chemical weapons capabilities.

“The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all the chemical weapons,” Mattis told reporters.

Trump said on Sunday after initial reports of an attack that there would be a “big price to pay”.

A Syria medical relief group said at least 60 people had been killed and more than 1,000 injured in several sites in Douma.

The stakes were further raised on Monday when unidentified war planes struck a Syrian air base near Homs, killing at least 14 people, including Iranian personnel. Syria and Russia accused Israel of carrying out the attack.

Israel, which has struck Syrian army locations many times in the course of its neighbour’s seven-year-old civil war, has neither confirmed nor denied mounting the raid.

But Israeli officials said the Tiyas, or T-4, air base was being used by troops from Iran and that Israel would not accept such a presence in Syria by its arch foe.

The two incidents in Douma and Tiyas demonstrated the complex and volatile nature of the Syria war, which started in March 2011 as an anti-Assad uprising and now involves a number of countries and a myriad of insurgent groups.

Assad now has the upper hand in the conflict, largely thanks to Russian intervention on his side, but any international action could delay his efforts to bring it to close.

RANGE OF OPTIONS

The United Nations Security Council will meet on Monday following rival requests by Russia and the United States to discuss the situation. Senior officials in the Trump administration were also to meet in the White House.

Britain said it was working with its allies to agree a joint response to the reported chemical attack on Douma.

“If there is clear verified evidence of the use of chemical weapons and a proposal for action where the UK would be useful, then we will look at the range of options,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said.

France said it would work closely with the United States on a response to the suspected chemical attack. Both countries agreed responsibility for the strike must be established.

President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to Trump by telephone on Sunday, had issued repeated warnings previously that France would strike if proof of lethal chemical attacks were established. But Paris stopped short of apportioning blame on Assad’s forces for Saturday’s attack.

Trump had referred in a Tweet to “Animal Assad” and criticised Russia and Iran for backing the Syrian leader, directly naming Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said such allegations were false and a provocation. Lavrov also said the strike on the T-4 base was a dangerous development.

Syrian government forces had launched an air and ground assault on Douma, the last rebel-held town in the eastern Ghouta district, on Friday.

The Union of Medical Care Organizations (UOSSM) said at least 60 people had been killed by the alleged chemical attack.

“The numbers keep rising as relief workers struggle to gain access to the subterranean areas where gas has entered and hundreds of families had sought refuge,” it said.

One video shared by activists showed bodies of about a dozen children, women and men, some with foam at the mouth. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

The OPCW, based in the Hague, said people were possibly gassed to death by a poisonous cocktail of sarin and chlorine.

Dr. Muhammad, a doctor in Ghouta quoted by UOSSM, said patients were coughing blood, a symptom not seen in previous chemical attacks.

U.N. war crimes investigators had previously documented 33 chemical attacks in Syria, attributing 27 to the Assad government, which has repeatedly denied using the weapons.

The United States fired missiles on a Syrian air base a year ago in response to the killing of dozens of civilians in a sarin gas attack in an opposition-held town in northwest Syria, blamed on Assad.

RED LINES

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor, said at least 14 people were killed in Monday’s air strike on the T-4 base, including foreign fighters – a reference to Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia members, mostly from Iraq, Lebanon and Iran fighting alongside the Syrian army.

Iran’s Fars news agency said three Iranians were killed.

The Russian military said two Israeli F-15 war planes carried out the strike. Interfax news agency cited the Russian Defence Ministry as saying Syrian air defence systems had shot down five of eight missiles fired.

Syrian state news agency SANA, citing a military source, carried a similar report.

The Israeli government had no immediate comment.

Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant, while not confirming that Israel had carried out the attack, said his country had clear interests in Syria.

“We laid down red lines there, which said that we would not allow Syrian land to be a springboard for game-changing weaponry to Lebanon, we would not allow the building of an Iranian army in Syria and we would not allow the opening of another front on the Golan Heights,” he told Israel Radio.

“In this context we are taking action with all means, over time.”

In Washington, Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged Trump and his administration to destroy Assad’s air capabilities, enforce safe zones inside Syria, and target Assad directly.

“This president has the chance to do exactly the opposite of (former U.S. President Barack) Obama – send a strong signal that there’s a new sheriff in town and America’s back,” Graham told Fox News in an interview.

(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Ellen Francis, Maria Kiselyova, Dan Williams, John Irish, Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

Civilians flee as two big Syria battles enter decisive phases

FILE PHOTO: People walk with their belongings as they flee the rebel-held town of Hammouriyeh, in the village of Beit Sawa, eastern Ghouta, Syria March 15, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Thousands of civilians were fleeing from besieged enclaves on opposite ends of Syria on Friday as two major battles in the multi-sided civil war entered decisive phases, with hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the path of both assaults.

Air strikes killed dozens of people in eastern Ghouta, a war monitor said, and weary residents streamed out on foot for a second day as Russian-backed government forces pressed their campaign to capture the last big rebel bastion near Damascus.

On another front, Turkish and allied Syrian rebel forces shelled the northern Kurdish-held town of Afrin heavily, killing at least 18 people and forcing 2,500 people to flee, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor reported.

The Kurdish YPG militia, defending Afrin, said it was battling the Turkish forces and their Syrian militia allies who tried to storm the town from the north.

The two offensives, one backed by Russia and the other led by Turkey, have shown how Syrian factions and their foreign allies are aggressively reshaping the map of control after the defeat of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate last year.

The Syrian war entered its eighth year this week having killed half a million people and driven more than 11 million from their homes, including nearly 6 million who have fled abroad in one of the worst refugee crises of modern times.

The government launched its assault on eastern Ghouta a month ago, and Turkey began its cross-border campaign in Afrin in January. In both cases, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been trapped inside areas encircled on the battlefield.

AIR STRIKES KILL 57, CIVILIANS FLEE

Backed by Russia and Iran, government forces have thrust deep into eastern Ghouta, splintering the area into three separate enclaves. The United Nations believes up to 400,000 people have been trapped inside the rebel-held area of densely populated farms and satellite towns on the outskirts of the capital, with virtually no access to food or medicine.

For the first time since the government unleashed the Ghouta offensive, one of the deadliest of the war, residents are fleeing in their thousands, carrying children and belongings on foot from rebel-held territory to reach government positions.

Moscow and Damascus accuse the rebels of having forced people to stay in harm’s way to use them as human shields. The rebels deny this and say the aim of the government assault is to depopulate opposition areas.

The Observatory said air strikes in eastern Ghouta killed 47 people in the town of Kafr Batna and another 10 people in Saqba on Friday. It said Russian aircraft had carried out the strikes. Syrians believe they can distinguish Russian aircraft from those of the Syrian army because the Russians fly at higher altitude.

Syrian State TV broadcast footage of men, women and children walking along a dirt road near the town of Hammouriyeh, many of them carrying bags, to escape rebel-held areas. Some waved to the camera and said the rebels had stopped them from leaving.

Russian news agencies reported that around 3,300 people had come out on Friday morning. An army officer at Hawsh Nasri, where hundreds of people gathered, told Reuters that many more people were expected to leave on Friday.

Around 5,000 people were sheltering at the nearby town of Adra and many more would arrive on Friday, the Adra mayor said. “Today we are expecting a big number,” Jassem al-Mahmoud said.

The exodus began on Thursday with thousands fleeing the southernmost of the three Ghouta pockets. Russia said more than 12,000 people left on Thursday.

The eastern Ghouta town of Douma, where many people are sheltering, has been spared the worst of the shelling in recent days, a resident said.

During campaigns to recover other areas, the Syrian government has taken territory by allowing rebel fighters and opposition activists safe passage out to insurgent-held areas at the Turkish border. Russia has offered similar safe passage to rebels who leave eastern Ghouta, but so far they have refused.

ALARMING REPORTS

The Ghouta and Afrin campaigns have both continued despite a U.N. Security Council demand for a ceasefire. Moscow and Damascus argue the enemies they target in Ghouta are terrorists unprotected by the truce. Turkey says the same of the Kurdish YPG militia it is fighting in Afrin.

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Iran and Russia convened a meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana to discuss the situation in Syria. The three states last year agreed to contain the conflict on several fronts with “de-escalation zones”, while simultaneously pursuing own military objectives in Syria.

Turkey wants to crush the YPG which it views as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in Turkey. The United States views the YPG as a valuable partner in its war against Islamic State in Syria.

A spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said it had received “deeply alarming reports from Afrin in northwestern Syria about civilian deaths and injuries due to airstrikes and ground-based strikes, as well as reports that civilians are being prevented from leaving Afrin city by Kurdish forces.”

Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV broadcast footage from the Afrin area showing cars, small trucks, tractors and groups of people on foot leaving the town. An elderly man told the channel he had left on foot at 2 a.m. when shells started falling.

“There are a lot of people leaving the city as well, and a lot still inside,” he said.

Birusk Hasakeh, the YPG spokesman in Afrin, said the Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel militia allies were trying to storm Afrin from the north. The YPG and its all-female affiliate, the YPJ, were battling the attacking forces.

“They are shelling in order to storm (Afrin),” Hasakeh said by phone. The shelling had killed 18 people and more people were believed to be trapped under rubble, he said.

The spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey expected its forces and rebel allies to clear Afrin town of militants “very soon”.

(Reporting by Tom Perry and Dahlia Nehme in Beirut, Firas Makdesi in Damascus, Jack Stubbs in Moscow and Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Peter Graff)

France says powers must impose transition on Syrians, no role for Assad

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a conference of Italian ambassadors in Rome, Italy July 24, 2017.

By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s foreign minister said on Friday he wanted major powers to agree on a transition plan that would be imposed on Syrians, but ruled out any role for President Bashar al-Assad, who he said had “murdered” part of his population.

Jean-Yves Le Drian’s comments come despite what has appeared to be a softening in Paris’ position since the arrival of President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron’s election victory gave Paris, which is a key backer of the Syrian opposition and the second-largest contributor to the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State, a chance to re-examine its Syria policy.

Macron proposed dropping demands Assad step down as a pre-condition for talks, although French officials still insist he cannot be the long-term future for Syria.

Le Drian, defence minister under former president Francois Hollande, said the anticipated defeat of Islamic State militants meant there was an opportunity for a compromise. More than 300,000 people have died in six years of fighting and millions more have fled Syria.

“He (Assad) cannot be part of the solution. The solution is to find with all the actors a calendar with a political transition that will enable a new constitution and elections,” Le Drian told RTL radio.

“This transition cannot be done with Bashar al-Assad who murdered part of his population and who has led millions of Syrians to leave” their homeland, he said.

Critics accused the Hollande administration of intransigence over Assad’s future, although it later said Assad would have to leave only once a transition process was complete.

 

CONTACT GROUP

That position has put France at odds with Russia and Iran, who back Assad and say the Syrian people should decide their own future.

While Britain has said Assad must go, diplomats say the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has yet to outline a vision for a political process in Syria and is focusing primarily on defeating Islamic State and countering Iran.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with AFP news agency in Damascus, Syria in this handout picture provided by SANA on April 13, 2017.

FILE PHOTO: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with AFP news agency in Damascus, Syria in this handout picture provided by SANA on April 13, 2017. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

The U.N. Security Council has already adopted a Syria transition roadmap and two diplomats said the latest French idea was to get the five permanent members of the council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – to agree first how to move forward.

The Security Council would then bring into fold the main regional powers, although diplomats said it was pointless without Iran’s involvement. There were also questions on how to win U.S. support given the Trump administration’s staunch anti-Iranian position.

“That’s what we want to do now even before Assad leaves. We do that independently because if we wait for the Syrians to agree we will wait a long time and there will be thousands more dead,” Le Drian said.

Macron has said the initiative would begin to see light during the U.N. General Assembly in mid-September.

Le Drian has previously said the contact group would aim to help U.N.-brokered peace talks in Geneva. They have stalled in large part due to the weakness of opposition groups and the Assad government’s refusal to enter substantive negotiations, given its strong position on the ground.

The last major international attempt to resolve the crisis ended in failure when the International Syria Support Group, which included Iran, was disbanded after Syrian government forces retook the rebel stronghold of Aleppo in 2015.

 

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Jon Boyle)

 

In Greece, refugee women and children live in limbo

Faten 25, (L) from Syria, sits at the edge of the beach beside her sister-in-law near their tent outside the Souda refugees camp in Chios Island, Greece, June 10, 2017. "It's taking too long. This slowness to reunite families scares me," Faten said. "We have nothing to do all day long, we just sit by the tent which I share with my sister-in-law, a friend and her daughter."

y Zohra Bensemra

CHIOS, Greece (Reuters) – Thousands of refugee woman and children are living in limbo in Greece, waiting for the day they will be reunited with their families in other European countries.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says nearly 75,000 refugees and migrants stranded in Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Western Balkans are at risk of “psychological distress” caused by existing in a prolonged state of transit.

About 60,000 refugees and migrants, mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, have been stuck in Greece for over a year after border closures in the Balkans halted the onward journey many planned to take to central and western Europe.

More than a quarter are children and over half the new arrivals have been women and children, according to U.N. data. Men were the first family members to flee to Europe in previous years, leaving others to follow.

“Despair is haunting me at the moment,” said Soha, a 23-year-old Syrian who lives in a tent on the island of Chios with two her two-year-old daughter and other Syrian women.

In the camp, next to the ruins of an ancient castle, overcrowded tents are pitched on the edge of the pebbled shore, and rats roam among the garbage. Women say they are too scared to leave their tents at night, fearing harassment.

Like other women, Soha declined to give her last name or be identified in photographs, fearing it could affect her application to join her husband in Germany.

Family reunification can take between 10 months and two years, UNICEF says, making life particularly hard those left behind.

The uncertainty caused “significant psychological distress and anxiety for children and their families, setting them back for years to come”, UNICEF Regional Director Afshan Khan said.

A one-year-old girl smiles as she sits with her mother, Ibtissam, 22, at the Souda Refugee Camp in Chios island, Greece, June 10, 2017. "I was one month pregnant with my daughter and my son was one year old when my husband migrated to Germany." Ibtissam, who is from Raqqa said. "I feel devastated, at the moment I can’t apply for family reunification because I have to wait until my husband gets his asylum document.... I feel depressed but I have to keep holding on for my children."

A one-year-old girl smiles as she sits with her mother, Ibtissam, 22, at the Souda Refugee Camp in Chios island, Greece, June 10, 2017. “I was one month pregnant with my daughter and my son was one year old when my husband migrated to Germany.” Ibtissam, who is from Raqqa said. “I feel devastated, at the moment I can’t apply for family reunification because I have to wait until my husband gets his asylum document…. I feel depressed but I have to keep holding on for my children.” REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

“I spend most of the day alone,” said Farhiya, a 23-year-old Somali who lives in a volunteer-run camp on Lesbos island.

“The other refugees don’t speak English and I don’t speak Arabic. It’s hard to live alone,” she said. Farhiya applied to join her husband in Austria seven months ago while still pregnant, but has not heard back, she said.

In Athens, 36-year-old Khalissa, who fled Syria with her three young children, spends her days in a drop-in center run by a UNICEF partner, a brief respite from her problems.

She colors in hearts representing her feelings about the past, present and future. The past is blue for sadness, the present brown for fear and the future, in which she hopes to reunite with her husband after two years, yellow for happiness.

Ultimately, she longs to go home.

“If Syria becomes as before the war, I will return home,” she said. “We must return home.”

(Writing by Karolina Tagaris, editing by Ed Osmond)