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Battle for survival

(Global Times)

08:58, August 29, 2012

Aleppo residents ask a Free Syrian Army soldier for a safe way to leave on August 20. (Hao Zhou/Global Times)

"People in other parts of the world die only once in their life, but Syrians die a hundred times a day," said Saleh al-Haji, trembling in fear of a fresh airstrike on his town in northern Syria by government forces.

A government fighter jet bombed a house said to belong to a Free Syrian Army soldier who died three months ago in Marea, 30 kilometers north of Aleppo, early Tuesday morning. The targeted house was just 500 meters from where the Global Times reporters slept at night.

On August 20, a government jet targeted a moving car with three people inside. The roar of the jet was terrifying as its rockets streaked through the night sky in a blaze of red. All of the passengers were killed in this attack, which was witnessed by the Global Times.

"Every night before I sleep, I pray to Allah to let me live, at least to wake up next morning," Saleh said, but vowed that he would never leave his town, as he was "ready to die" to protect his family and house.

Other families in Marea, however, were packing their clothes, carpets and mats into minibuses and leaving the town of around 20,000 people.

Virtual buffer zone

More than 1,000 Syrians like those in Marea who fled the 17-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule continue to arrive at the Turkish border every day, flocking into nine camps that have already accommodated nearly 70,000 Syrian refugees.

A 20-kilometer deep buffer zone has essentially been created on the ground in northern Syria from the Turkey-Syria border.

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