Doctors in northern Syria revealed a shocking catalogue of hidden threats planted in roads, fields and houses.
Karline Kleijer, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ (MSF) emergency manager for Syria, said: “It is extremely dangerous for people returning to their homes.
“Booby traps have been planted everywhere, under the carpet, in the fridge, even in children’s teddy bears.”
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MSF warned that the traps were being left not just to hinder enemies, but also to target people returning to their homes.
As well as being put in the ground, bombs were found hidden in doorways or under objects likely to attract children, such as teddy bears, dolls and televisions, with some cased in steel in order to inflict maximum casualties through the resulting explosion of shrapnel.
MSF, which runs six medical facilites in northern Syria, carried out interviews from last October to February. It said that in four weeks last summer, hospital staff in the Manbij area alone treated more than 190 people injured by blasts from explosive devices.
One patient they spoke to, Jasem, lives in a house with two mines planted metres from the door.
“I can’t sleep because I’m always worried that one of my four children, or a dog or a sheep, will step on one of the mines around the house. When an animal approaches the house, we all run away in case it detonates a mine,” he said.
MSF’s Karline Kleijer said: “People are risking their lives to make their villages safe. We heard about five local men in Ayn Al Arab/Kobane who volunteered to clear houses of mines to earn some money. None of those men are alive today.”