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Syrian Rebels Preventing Refugees from Leaving Idlib as Russian Forces Prepare Final Offensive


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As Russian and Syrian forces prepare an offensive to take the last remaining rebel stronghold, some refugees from Idlib province say Syrian rebels are stopping their families from fleeing the fighting.

"We were forced to exile from our homes and our country because of the terrorists of Jabhat Al Nusra and Daesh [Islamic State]," one 53-year-old refugee, Ahmad, said.

He said he had been in Lebanon's Bar Elias camp in the Bekaa Valley for five years. All the refugees in this part of the camp are from Idlib province, where Russian and Syrian forces are preparing an offensive against the last stronghold held by rebels.

Ahmad said he was frightened for his family remaining in Idlib.

"Right now there are no heavy bombardments as they are negotiating, they are meeting," he said.

"But of course if the terrorists refuse to surrender, the Syrian Arab Army will advance and conquer Idlib. There is no other option and we back the Syrian Arab Army on that."

The United Nations and the United States, among other nations, are urging the Syrian Government and its allies Russia and Iran to negotiate a peaceful solution in Idlib … but these refugees say the onus is on the rebels.

"The Syrian Arab Army has opened more than one corridor but the terrorists are not allowing anyone to leave because they are using them as human shields."

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