Towns of Kefraya and al-Fu’ah are located in the Northeastern Syria in the Idlib Governorate. According to the 2004 census, population of Kefraya was around 4,500, whereas al-Fu’ah had 10,000 inhabitants. However, population of these towns rose to 20,000 since the beginning of the conflict. The distance between Kefraya and al-Fu’ah, both Shia, is around three kilometers. Before the civil war, one of the main activities of the local population was the production of olives and figs.
June 10, 2017 marked exactly two years, two months, two weeks and two days since Kefraya and al-Fu’ah were sieged by opposition groups. Namely, on March 28, 2015, rebel forces managed to conquer the capital of Idlib Governorate and surround these two towns, whose residents remained loyal to Syrian government. Isolation has caused severe living conditions, food shortages and lack of basic medical care.
Mutual efforts by the United Nations, the International Committee of Red Cross and the Syrian branch of the Red Crescent resulted in delivering food, flour, medicines, medical equipment and baby food to Kefraya and al-Fu’ah. In addition, Syrian and Russian aviation also provided humanitarian aid. On the other hand, the inhabitants of these two enclaves are subjected to constant shelling, sniping and suicide attacks by the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeds branch in Syria, which is considered to be a terrorist organization since 2013. At the end of January 2017, around 18,800 persons are estimated to be captured in Kefraya.
An agreement reached between the Syrian government and the rebels, so-called Four Towns Agreement in March 2017 led to the evacuation of Kefraya and al-Fu’ah residents to the territory controlled by the Government forces. The road to sanctuary included an insecure corridor controlled by opposed rebel groups. On April 15, during one of the evacuations, a suicide attack on a bus convoy was carried out causing the death of 120 civilians, 70 of whom were children. No terrorist organization took the responsibility for the crime. However, it can be said certainly that the attack was organized by the rebels who are against the agreement with Syrian Government.
The fate of Kefraya and al-Fu’ah is still uncertain. These towns are still hostages and effective tools in the hands of those surrounding them and the lives of their inhabitants are used as a stake in negotiating with the opposite side. And the years, months, weeks and days are passing by…
Photo: Arab Weekly