July 24th, 2012
09:41 AM ET

Inside Syria: A Syrian town's 'Street of Death'

Editor's note: CNN's Ivan Watson and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Check out more from CNN inside Syria.

Atareb, Syria (CNN) - After months of fighting, the regime's men finally abandoned this strategic crossroads.

President Bashar al Assad's troops left behind a bullet-riddled ghost town patrolled by rebels and a handful of shell-shocked residents.

Fighters had renamed the stretch of the Bab el Hawa highway, which ran through the center of town, the "Street of Death." Until recently, they said anyone who dared set foot on it became a target.

A mini-graveyard of burned-out armored personnel carriers sat next to the main municipal building, which served as a base for government soldiers. Several weeks after rebels captured the town, the building's walls were still decorated with pro-regime graffiti proclaiming frightening ultimatums: "Either Bashar or we'll burn this city" and "Bashar or nothing."

"This used to be a very classy area. ... The Turks would come here to see our village," said a fighter named Abdullah Behri, who was treated in a hospital in nearby Turkey after losing his left eye to shrapnel during a battle here last May.

"Now it has all turned to hell," he said, pointing at the town's deserted streets.

soundoff (18 Responses)

    Like to think that history has multiple facets. but when it comes time of wars truths are distorted for political/ economic aims and years later historians with no personal axe to grind or no longet fearing political oppression or the masses hysteria, dig and probe to pry the truth into view. that was in the past and imposdiblr today and will remain so for the future.
    Every major media outlet in US Canada and British domai s has almost word for word tje same exact rhetoric. pictures, and the all are pro rebels, but for some damn reason no one knows who the rebels a
    re and what the heck they are going to do once present leadets are dead.
    For by now we all know they must die, regime change US style has no other ending, And the more chaos in the nation the greater the hype for a ned to save them from themselves.
    There are many more independent journalist in Syria and they do not have to worry about clearing both their bosses and governments political apartchiks,that are also giving out stories of ordinary Syrians views on tjis conflict.
    How many here know that yhe
    Turks fired upon Syrian refugees that were starving at a Turkish US,UN camp in Turkey?
    How bad was it?
    Many Syrians left and heafed back home to face chaos rather than stay.
    A fiture historisn will only jave the eurocentric propaganda for recorcords, but then again tjsts all we need to know.
    Isn't it?

    July 24, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Frank

    People of the United States of America and the World,
    As someone who have fought in Vietnam and in a support role in Lebanon in 1983,I can tell you there is no value added for the United States to be involved in Syria,as long as the United States supports Israel,the people of Syria will never accept the U.S. as a country they can work with.I would not recommend any support for the opposition forces because in the end, the country will end up like Egypt under the Muslim Brother Hood.Let the Arab Leauge deal with Syria and let the pieces fall where the may.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope


      There are alternatives and justice is one of them. My plea is not a call to arms, but a call for intervention, convention and appeal. The law of the land is being squandered out of fear. The people of Syria are helplessly crying out alongside that road.


      July 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hope


    The story, it seems, falls on deaf ears; as, even, the Westerners have come to question man's authority over them, truth and government. So we sit, as if under fire ourselves, afraid to move a muscle mesmerised by the sight of death. The seconds pass by... eventually turning into months and, even, I grow thirsty for a single drop of water as my very soul is arid and dry. People are dying, we tell ourselves, but our eyes are fixed. People are dying, we whisper to ourselves, but our limbs are frozen.

    History is merely a record of the actions of men... written neither for manipulation nor for effect. That's a bold assessment, but one created in the mind of the captured. We are making history is a truer statement... but look at us! We are cowarding in the corner of a safe environment. People, really, are dying and we are doing nothing.

    I don't believe in aggession. I believe life is precious, as do most of you. But, people are dying and their lives, no matter how they choose to live it is precious. Does not history teach us that? Has our own history not cried out for truth, liberty and justice? I believe it has.

    Truth: We live in a time of greatness when we consider the crimes being committed against mankind.

    Liberty: The freedom of moving from one place to another. To persue, to seek and to find.

    Justice: The weighing of facts to determine punishment.

    Again, does not TRUTH call out to us when liberty is dying along the roadside? How does one attain justice without truth?

    People are dying... is an afterthought. People are being killed based solely on the path they have chosen and they deserve justice!


    July 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hope

    Time stops for no one.

    NOW is the time!

    Free Syria!

    July 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hope


    Does it matter that much, in the larger scheme of things what Brotherhood they choose? I mean, really; isn't it much more important that they be afforded the right to choose?

    I say they are being killed based on the path they choose. But, in reality, they are being murdered because of their sect. A sect?

    THIS is a genocide!

    Look that one up in your history book as you, we, sit idly by... You say YOU have suggestions. Let's hear them because I refuse to be manipulated by some 'brotherhood' now, or in the future!

    WE can do better than that!


    July 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lindy

    Assad on his last leg, defection of more to come. He can keep replacing them (regime staff), but he will topple.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |

    If anyone believes that this so called revolution does not have US fingerprints on it, then they are living in la la land, or else been to busy to not know true geopolitical situation of world.
    Shiploads of arms do not magicly appear out of a recent conquered nation, Libya, Kofi Annan helped form the policy for non nation sovereignty in collaboration eith think tanks of US and groups sponsored by George Soros a neo liberal bilionaire that makes money on such political moves.
    The Saudis have long supported vovrrt US operationswith money laundered kick backs to our Intelligence services during weapons buys, even those inLatinAmeruccan dope wars andtheir intelligence is but part of ours too some extent
    Yes the regime was not as free as ours appears to of once been yet by our instigation allied with others in the region, what was only an minor incident has turned into a blood bath, by our interventionist policys..
    The fullstories donot come out in15 srcond sound bites by our very much controlled media, but it is out there and realy not hidden very well.
    Weeping willows and willys are but pawns used to hide truth of happenings, good intentions but irrational babblings that add no cures to endless wars we are now following as national policy.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hope


    So what if it was? Are we supposed to tie our own hands behind our backs rendering ourselves defenseless because some jack sang a song of freedom in Syria? If that's so, let the chorus begin with you, in full harmony.

    God bless Syria!

    July 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hope


    The pawns are not you and I, but them.

    Lying, crying, babbling; if you will, but definately DYING along the side of the road. Weeping WIDOWS and their children can hardly move a rock, much less a mountain. What about you?


    July 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. saywhat

    German intelligence reports that "Al Qaeda is all over Syria".
    And to think that we have been arming and financing these 'rebels' just to unseat Assad regime on behest of Israel.
    Netanyahu announced yesterday, after his Defense minister had ordered the military to prepare for Syrian invasion, that " we are ready to enter Syria".
    If even now we the ever gullible American public believes that there is some kind of popular uprising against the regime like that in Tunisia or Egypt is unfolding in Syria then what can one say.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hope


    I suppose it will take Israel to stop another genocide in the middle east! Someone asked me and I should have answered... How many people have you saved? While I was reminded of the sacrifices that the Jewish people in saving tens of thousands of Sudanese.

    Turn, turn, turn...

    God is good,

    July 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. saywhat

    "I suppose it will take Israel to stop another genocide in the Middle East" you are not serious, are you@Hope.
    " Israeli military announced on the 23rd July that they will destroy 8 (more) Palestinian villages"
    Ethnic cleansing,genocide, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria the Middle Eastern conundrum .Israel is and has been a part of the problem.
    God is good @hope but is 'Man' ?

    July 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |

    "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, " is an old saying, and was as true back then as now.
    Lot of gossipy fools of the weeping sort have always been the cheerleaders that wave the flags and. spread rumors of fear that stand on sidelines cheering and then run weeping after the carnage they encouraged returns back home.
    That those in US are almost totaly immune from viewing the carnage, and hide behind high sounding ideals and know almost nothing as to what lays behind the carnage meansthat what you see today will reapear in another land.
    What was the purpose of the State
    department spending 25 million a year between 2010 and 2011 in training 5000 youths and activist from middle eastern and north Africa, and when last meeting held how long before it was "ARAB SPRING"?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hope


    There's a story that was told sooo long ago about a woman, could've been a man, who was seeking justice for the loss of her son. Everyday, she would approach the judge begging and pleading for justice and everyday she was turned away. She, continued to the point of being bothersome, til the judge, at last, granted her justice.

    I come not to judge. I couldn't care less what the governments are doing. I seek justice. If you want to call that cheerleading or a waste of time, that's okay. But when the gates are opened and you see the children and their mothers fleeing from certain death, with an attainable hope for tomorrow... maybe you'll get it.


    Please... You are sooo much better than that!


    July 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. saywhat

    Thanks ."love your neighbor as yourself" we have forgotten.
    @Hide Behind
    Your insight gives encouragement to the thought that there are some who do understand the dynamics in that region.
    All is not what it appears to be.
    An unstable Middle East and instability is designed.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
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