Jul 21 2012
By Sarri al-Rawi
Azzaman, July 21, 2012
Iraqi refugees in Syria say Syrian rebels have been targeting them on sectarian grounds as conditions in Syria are worsening by every passing day.
Thousands of Iraqis have returned home and there are reports of at least 23 Iraqi refugees killed since the latest bout of fighting in Damascus.
Syria has been the main haven for Iraqis fleeing violence in their own country and the number of Iraqi exiles there is estimated at 1.25 million.
But the refugees say what is happening in Syria right now is worse than the bloody sectarian violence that forced them to escape from Iraq.
The refugees who have made it safely home following the eruption of some of the fiercest fighting in Damascus pointed the finger for the plight on Syrian rebels, saying that some of the radical groups among them were resorting to swords to liquidate opponents.
None of those interviewed by the newspaper was willing to give their names for fear of retaliation against their families and relatives still remaining in Syria.
They agreed to talk on the strict condition of anonymity.
There were several artists, actors and actresses in Syria taking part in the production of soap operas and other artistic activities for Iraqi television stations.
They said violence forced them to remain in their flats and take the first opportunity to return home.
The upsurge in violence has led to a hike in transport fees and currently it costs up $200 to transfer one person from Syria to Iraq by land, they said.
Many Iraqis cannot afford the transport fees, they added.
Iraqi members of parliament have blamed the government for inaction.
The government says it is doing its best to get the Iraqis back home and has planes at the Damascus International Airport waiting for those willing to return.
But the refugees say it is no longer safe to travel to the airport.
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