In the face of bombs and militias, the return of the Damascus regime and the possible resurgence of the IS, the inhabitants of northeastern Syria are more and more numerous to cross the border.
Ten days before crossing the Iraqi border, 37-year-old Mahmoud Issa was teaching English at a school in Ras al-Ain, a Kurdish and Arab city in northeastern Syria. Today he eats rice drizzled with tomato sauce in a plastic tray under the sheet of a hangar of the Iraqi Kurdish armed forces, the peshmerga, near a village lost in the meanders of burnt hills on the border between the Iraq and Syria.
In the meantime, Turkish bombs began to fall near his home and Islamist bands in Ankara's pay crossed the border. Images of their misdeeds, humiliations and summary executions have spread terror. Since then, the Syrian regime has begun to return to communities in the north-east of the country.
Thrown on the roads with his people like 300,000 other Syrians in the north of the country, Mahmoud Issa wandered from town to town before making a reason. "In Syria, with the regime, the Turks and Daesh (Arabic acronym of Islamic State Organization, EI) who will take advantage of the situation, there is nothing good … " To the point of constraining him to the uncertainties of exile. He saw his country closing in on him like a trap, like his wife and children, younger than the war itself. We had to leave.
Then the English teacher took the road to the border, to the steppes where nothing comes out of the ground except the heavy columns of black smoke that signal the smuggling refineries of gas traffickers, to villages with low houses and roads lost where, every night, darkness becomes an accomplice of smugglers, shadows in arms, killers of all kinds.
Like hundreds of other refugees, Mahmoud Issa had to put the fate of his family in the hands of the lords of this border disorder, the Bedouins of the Chammar tribe, formerly camel herders became outstanding smugglers who, for 750 dollars ( 675 euros), took the teacher's family on the back of a mule to the peshmerga positions on the Iraqi side. Kurdish fighters collected them with dozens of other families of Syrian Kurdish refugees.
That night, there were a thousand – men, women and children – to be passed. Two days later, on October 22, they were nearly 1,300, bringing the number of Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan to nearly 5,400, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, an NGO in Iraq and Syria.