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For Syria’s opposition activists, Turkey 'best of the bad'

While initially welcoming millions of refugees and supporting opposition activists after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the Turkish government has since shifted positions to further its own interests in a manner that dismays many Syrians living in the country.
Turkish anti-riot police officers run as Kurds protest against Turkish military operation in Syria, in Istanbul, on October 13, 2019. - Fighting has engulfed the border area in northeastern Syria since Turkey launched an offensive on October 9 to push back the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), displacing 130,000 people so far according to the United Nations, amidst warnings from aid groups of another humanitarian disaster in Syria's eight-year-old war if the offensive is not halted. (Photo by Yasi
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Nisreen Ali, a young Syrian activist with big dreams, moved to Turkey in April 2015. She planned to set up in Gaziantep, a vibrant city near the Syrian border that was full of “people who wanted to change our country, to shape its future, people like me.” Ali found a job as a multimedia journalist for a Syrian opposition radio station. She was going to go in and out of rebel-controlled Aleppo and report what she saw. “When I heard how Aleppo was fighting against extremists and jihadists who were trying to hijack our revolution, I was really excited. I wanted to be among them. I had an ideal picture of how my life here would be,” Ali said.

Five years on, the 32-year-old is suffused with bitterness and despair. She uses a pseudonym to avert reprisal from the Turkish government. Her mother warns her daily to avoid posting “dangerous words” on social media about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Western-funded humanitarian organization she works for dares not mention Turkey’s repeated stoppage of water to close to a million people in northeastern Syria in its reports. And Aleppo is back under the full grip of the Syrian regime.

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