Syria: Smugglers with a cause

We follow the Syrian exiles risking their lives to smuggle essential supplies to those fighting the regime.

Filmmaker: Mike Healy

Syria’s opposition activists and the Free Syrian Army are hugely under-equipped and rely on meagre supplies trickling over the borders from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

A network of Syrian activists on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border organise the smuggling of vital supplies into the country to support the resistance, as well as getting refugees out.

Volunteers take huge risks smuggling in items ranging from walkie-talkies to blood bags for transfusions. Many are injured, some are killed in the process.

“There have been lots and lots of guys killed carrying supplies across the border. There are always ambushes at the border,” says Jamil, an activist organiser wanted by the Syrian authorities because of his activism during the early days of the uprising.

He fled to Turkey in July 2011 and now rents a house in a Turkish border town with up to 20 other activists. They are funded by their savings, families and Syrian donors.

Witness spends time with Jamil and volunteers Mohammad Ali and Omar as they wait on the Syria-Turkey border, preparing for the trip that will take them back home to fight the regime. They hope to join up with the Free Syrian Army in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria.

“There’s no room for surrender,” explains a determined Omar. “I’m not going to surrender to anyone. I’ll resist any way I can and I’ll not let them capture me.”

undefinedWitness can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Monday: 2230; Tuesday: 0930; Wednesday: 0330; Thursday: 1630.

Bringing global issues into focus through courageous and inspiring human stories. Watch more Witness.