16 Feb 2012

Defiant yet outgunned – a dangerous life in northern Syria

Channel 4 News gains exclusive access to the town of Saraqib in northern Syria, which the Free Syrian Army is defending from government forces. Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Rugman reports.

The town of Saraqib, like much of northern Syria, is in rebel hands.

Home to 40,000 people, the town is surrounded by dozens of tanks and snipers loyal to President Assad’s regime – many residents live in fear of being shot at by government snipers nearby.

The ramshackle militia’s hold over the town is precarious. They are short of military and medical supplies.

One army defector told Channel 4 News that he feared going to the hospital, despite being badly injured: “Everyone who goes to hospital – the army will arrest him and kill him.”

Yet spirits remain high among the opposition. A coordination committee attempts to keep the town organised and well stocked with equipment. A primary school teacher on the committee admits: “We depend on more troops leaving Assad, and on the strong will of the local people.”

Even local children chant “death to President Assad”.

The loyalty of the people here has been shattered – and surely no amount of state sanctioned violence will win that loyalty back.