View Photo Gallery — Syrian refugees flock to Turkey and Jordan: Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled across the border into Turkey and Jordan since the 17-month uprising in their homeland began
“Now, Jordan has become our number one source of manpower,” said Abu Hani Darawi, a Free Syrian Army coordinator whose battalions in Daraa have received the bulk of the returnees from Jordan. “We are now entering the final battles for Syria, and we need every able Syrian to join us.”
The call for recruits has sparked a steady stream of voluntary returnees from Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, near Mafraq. Jordanian officials are facilitating the repatriation of as many as 150 military-aged Syrians every day, according to Interior Ministry statistics. Ahmed Rifai, a 25-year-old camp resident, said FSA gains in Daraa had prompted him and two of his cousins to request repatriation in a bid to join the rebels.
“We can feel that Bashar’s final days are coming,” Rifai said. “We want to experience liberation day placing our boots on the neck of the regime, not cowering in a refugee camp.”
In addition to former and would-be fighters, activists said the returnees from Jordan include hundreds of doctors, nurses, lawyers and engineers who aspire to rebuild their homeland even as the conflict continues.
Abu Muuath Hamad, a 44-year-old paramedic, said he fled the central Syrian town of Douma after the regime persecuted him for offering assistance to suspected protesters. He said he sought refuge in the Jordanian city of Mafraq for six months, spending his time tending to the injuries and the rehabilitation of the hundreds of wounded FSA fighters who have crossed into Jordan for treatment. On Dec. 10, he was repatriated and returned to Douma, where he was appointed as chief field medic by the FSA.