Turkish aid campaigns to support civilians fleeing the war-battered city of Aleppo gathered speed on Friday, with hundreds more vehicles ferrying humanitarian supplies to the Syrian border.
The Open Road to Aleppo campaign saw around 100 vehicles organized by Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) join a convoy in the central Anatolian province of Kayseri.
Departing Friday, the convoy will go to the Turkish border province of Hatay, close to the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.
The first group of vehicles started its journey Wednesday, carrying humanitarian aid to Turkey’s Cilvegozu Border Gate in Hatay.
Musa Yilmaz, IHH Kayseri board member, said he wanted to show his support for the people of Aleppo and act to counter the “torture and persecution” of civilians there.
“Muslims are oppressed, persecuted, and tortured in all four corners of the world, including countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
“We will stage a rally [in Hatay] to support Syria [and] Aleppo and explain that we stand with them,” he added.
From Turkey’s central province of Konya, around 150 vehicles plus 60 trucks were headed to Hatay, said the IHH’s Hasan Huseyin Uysal.
“Our aid campaign is still ongoing. We will try to organize aid until the persecution stops,” Uysal said.
Another campaign co-organized by the Turkish Religious Foundation (TDV) and the Religious Affairs Directorate sent 38 trucks to Syria.
Speaking to reporters at the Cilvegozu Border Gate, TDV head Mustafa Tutkun said:
“We have completed our preparations to meet the needs of the civilians who were evacuated from Aleppo. We are expecting more evacuations.
“We will also be talking about how we can coordinate with the other authorities in this area and how we can deliver aid in the most effective way,” he added.
Tutkun said that 10 more aid trucks would be sent to Syria as soon as possible.
Aysegul Genc, secretary general of Turkey’s Red Crescent, also announced a new public campaign to help the people of Aleppo.
Meanwhile, a 12-truck convoy from Turkey’s western province of Afyonkarahisar is also headed to Hatay. Another five-truck convoy carrying 150 tons of foodstuffs is on the road to Cilvegozu from Istanbul’s Kucukcekmece district, organized by the local religious affairs department.
In the southern province of Kilis, various aid organizations – including the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency and Red Crescent – sent humanitarian supplies to Syria via the Oncupinar Border Gate.
The aid included food, clothing, coal, blankets, shoes, and baby food.
At least 7,500 civilians have so far left eastern Aleppo for safe areas in Idlib, according to Syrian opposition group officials.
Since mid-November, more than 775 civilians have been killed and 2,500 injured in regime attacks on opposition-held parts of Aleppo, according to local civil defense officials.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings — with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.