Five thousand internally displaced Syrians seek shelter in a large sports complex in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, where a makeshift tent city has been set up on basketball courts, football fields and adjacent lawns.
"Families," Francophone Lebanese newspaper L'Orient-Le Jour reports, "are trying to forget the violence of a brutal war which has dragged on for almost five years now."
"I hope that one day she will grow up on the same street as I did," Taiseer Hamash, a 29-year-old worker, tells AFP, speaking of his two-month-old girl, in front of the tent in which his family lives, part of a camp organized by the Russian Defense Ministry. Taiseer was forced to flee from his home city of Aleppo. Once the country's largest city with a population of over 2.3 million in 2005, Aleppo is now mostly deserted, its ruins fought over by government forces and a collection of anti-government rebels which include several radical jihadist groups.
"Thank you to President Putin and to the Russian people for the support offered by their military," Ali Ahmad Edrees, a 41-year-old former truck driver added. "We hope that with Allah's help, we will be able to get rid of terrorism."
Speaking before reporters, Abrahim al-Salem, Governor of Latakia province, emphasized that "Russian forces intervened to help us expedite the military victory. "In any case," the governor noted, "the Syrian Army will continue its operations to destroy the terrorists and kick them out of our country."
Another refugee, Yasser Edrees, voiced his hope that Russia would increase its assistance, to bring the war to a close sooner. "We want to go home by all means; we want Russia to send as many soldiers as possible."
Sarah Hassan, a volunteer at the Latakia camp, told French media about the problems the refugees face. "The situation here is bad…It is certainly better than in many other refugee camps, but it's still hard. People live in tents where there is no bathroom, no kitchen, no toilet."
On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that Russian warplanes had conducted 302 sorties over the past week, hitting 1,093 targets in the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Hama and Homs. Furthermore, last week, the Russian General Staff confirmed that aircraft had conducted over 4,200 missions against the terrorists since the beginning of the campaign.