Rebel rivalries leave Syrians 'stranded' after coming from Turkey following earthquake
Many Syrians returning from Turkey to their country of origin following a deadly earthquake have been left "stranded" between areas held by rival rebel groups, according to reports.
Turkish authorities granted approval this week for Syrians holding temporary protection cards to enter Syria after the quake struck the two countries on 6 February, killing over 46,000 people.
Syrians with these cards and those with Turkish citizenship have entered in their thousands through the Tal Abyad crossing.
Ahmed al-Ibrahim crossed with his family from the Turkish city of Urfa to the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad on Wednesday.
He said they are "stranded" because there's no formal crossing between areas controlled by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) rebel group and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
"There are smuggling routes between the two areas but they are very expensive," he was quoted as saying in a Friday article by The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
"Smugglers are asking us for US$150 for each family that wants to go from Tal Abyad to the Raqqa Governorate or to the Hasaka Governorate," he said. "This is a large amount most families can't afford to pay."
Tal Abyad crossing director Fayez al-Qataa said those entering areas controlled by the SNA east of the Euphrates River were "suffering from a lack of crossings with areas controlled by SDF forces".
He said the crossing administration had set up temporary residence centres inside the crossing precincts for those who don't have anywhere to stay in the area.
The SDF was allegedly refusing to open routes for those wishing to travel to areas under its control.
Local sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed there are attempts by "notables" to open a formal crossing between SNA and SDF areas to allow those coming from Turkey to reach their towns and villages.
In southern Turkey, and especially in Urfa, there are many Syrian refugees who come from the Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Hasaka provinces.
The SDF is loyal to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria opposition authority and controls land in all of these provinces while the SNA holds territory in Raqqa and Hasaka.