A displaced man carries his son at a school that has been turned into a shelter in Hasakah Province, Syria, on Oct. 21, 2019. In fear of airstrikes and artillery shelling during the current Turkish assault in northern Syria, civilians in Hasakah Province are seeking refuge in places like schools, hoping their forced displacement won't last long. (Str/Xinhua)
HASAKAH, Syria, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- In fear of airstrikes and artillery shelling during the current Turkish assault in northern Syria, civilians in Hasakah Province are seeking refuge in places like schools, hoping their forced displacement won't last long.
The Nai'm al-Luji school in the provincial capital of Hasakah hosts around 82 families of roughly 600 people, who were mostly displaced from their homes in the city of Ras al-Ayn in the northern countryside of Hasakah.
They share what used to be classrooms and get food from charities, as almost all of them left home in such a rush that they have nothing except the clothes they were wearing.
Abdul-Aziz Alaiwi, 50, told Xinhua that he had to leave his town of Tal Halaf in the countryside of Ras al-Ayn city after the Turkish army shelled the area which was later taken by the Turkey-backed rebels.
"The attack targeted our town in Tal Halaf with airstrikes and artillery shelling and the rebels stormed the town, which led to our displacement from one place to another," he said.
Ruwaida Nazzal, a 40-year-old woman from Ras al-Ayn, said the spectre of war hung over them and pushed them to flee, leaving behind their loved ones who weren't so lucky to escape out of the town in time.
"We heard a big strike and we fled the homes out of fear and got displaced with our children ... People were missing on the way, either killed or wounded," she lamented.
Like all the rest, Ibrahim Hasan, a 50-year-old displaced man, urged humanitarian organizations to help them to return home.
"We left our homes under the artillery shelling and airstrikes and many of our friends who remained there got killed and we implore the humanitarian organizations to help us return to our homes," he said.
The Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels captured the city of Ras al-Ayn in the countryside of Hasakah Province in northeastern Syria on Sunday.
Ras al-Ayn, near the Turkish border, is part of the safe zone that Ankara is planning to create in northeastern Syria. The inhabitants in the city are a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens and others.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched a military operation to clear the Kurdish militia from northern Syria, in order to eliminate what Turkey perceives as a threat to its border security, impose a safe zone and resettle millions of Syrian refugees.
The United States reached a deal with Turkey on Oct. 17, imposing a five-day cease-fire to allow the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to pull back from the planned safe zone that Turkey wants to create in northern Syria.
On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin reached an agreement on the parameters of the proposed Turkish safe zone in northern Syria during a meeting held in the Russian city of Sochi.
The deal stipulates that the SDF and its broader umbrella of the People's Protection Units will pull back 30 km south of Turkey's border within 150 hours.
The Turkey-led operation has led to the displacement of more than 300,000 people.