HATAY, Turkey — Syrian troops surrounded a makeshift refugee camp on Thursday just across the Turkish border, where spotters counted 13 armored personnel carriers on the hillside across from the Turkish border town of Guvecci.
By late afternoon, 1,500 Syrian refugees crossed into Turkey, according to Emre Manev, a spokesperson for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nazir, a 22-year-old economics student who has taken leave from his studies to work as a political activist, said everyone was leaving the camp at Kirbhat al-Jouz.
"All the people are running. It's like a tsunami," Nazir told GlobalPost. "My friend called and told me the [Syrian] army is coming closer and closer."
Nazir and several other activists escaped to Turkey, where they were taking refuge at the home of a local trafficker. He said he's not going to return to Syria.
"If they find me, maybe they will kill me," he said.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, gunshots were heard at the encampment on the Turkish border. A woman named Rana, 26, holding her 4-month-old son wiped tears from her eyes as she described fleeing from her village.
“Look how we’ve been forced to live in a tent,” she said. “We don’t have any more milk or diapers.”
Rana’s family fled after hearing stories of advancing soldiers attacking civilians and women being raped near her village of Kherbet al-Jouz. Inside her makeshift tent were a few blankets, some pots and pans for cooking and a basket of undersized apples.
"We cannot live with the tanks near our houses," she said.
Nearby, 63-year-old Abu Ahmed sat under a tree with one of his 40 grandchildren. His twelve children dropped him and the grandchildren at the camp and went back to their village to tend their orchards.
"I care for all of them," Abu Ahmed said. "We have to hide because we know what [the Syrian troops] did in Jisr al-Shughour.