First Published: 2016-12-27

'Civil March for Aleppo' leaves Berlin
Peace activists head down refugee trail in reverse, marching from Berlin outskirts, crossing Czech Republic, Austria, several Balkan countries and Turkey en route to Aleppo.
Middle East Online

Demonstrators wait for the march to begin

ALEPPO - About 400 peace activists were marching Tuesday from the outskirts of Berlin towards the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo, heading down the refugee trail in reverse.

Organised by Polish journalist and blogger Anna Alboth, the "Civil March for Aleppo" aims to build political pressure to help civilians caught up in the Syrian conflict.

Carrying white flags and hiking backpacks and wearing outdoor gear against the cold and wet December weather, the marchers had on Monday left from the centre of the German capital.

Alboth told Germany's left-leaning Tageszeitung daily that only a core group of 30 activists planned to walk all the way, adding that she expected they may be blocked at the Turkish border.

"The true purpose of the march is that the civilians in Syria get access to humanitarian aid," she said. "We are marching to build pressure."

The starting point was the disused airfield of the Nazi-era Tempelhof airport, which during the Cold War became the hub for the Berlin airlift and now houses several thousands refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries.

The marchers plan to cover around 20 kilometres (12 miles) a day and walk through the Czech Republic, Austria and several western Balkan countries to Turkey -- and then on to Syria.

It is the route into Europe that was taken last year by more than a million people, many fleeing battlefields in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, with the majority ending up in the top EU economy Germany.

Several thousand people have pledged on Facebook they would join at least a section of the about 3,000-kilometre (1,900-mile) trek bound for Syria's second city, which is now squarely under the control of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Backed by Russia and Iran, Syrian troops last week retook control of eastern Aleppo, which had been held by disparate rebel groups since mid-2012, after a devastating month-long offensive that caused tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Germany has pledged 15 million euros ($15.6 million) in aid to pay for medical staff and trauma counselors for the devastated city, Development Minister Gerd Mueller said.

 

US warns Iran over imprisoned Americans

Saudi King sets up new state security agency

Kuwait protests to Lebanon over Hezbollah training

30 extremists in Sinai operations

Foreign food chains hoping for taste of Iran market

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians

Police fire tear gas to disperse Morocco protest

Germany reviews arms sales to Turkey

Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

China calls for Gulf crisis talks

Israel bars men under 50 from Jerusalem Old City prayers

Intensifying Jihadist-rebel clashes in Syria's Idlib

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus energy plans

Saudi prince 'arrested over leaked abuse videos'

Israel boosts 'security measures' as Al-Aqsa tensions simmer

Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over 'terror' cell

Germany vows to overhaul Turkey ties as row escalates

Home cooked meals a relief for fighters in Syria's Raqa

US maintains designation of Iran as top 'state sponsor'

US halting support for Syria rebels

30 civilians dead in anti-IS strikes in Syria

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up probe

Turkey PM opts for stability in light cabinet reshuffle

UN aid flight carrying journalists barred from Yemen

Former IS slaves fight for revenge in Raqa

US, Iran trade tit-for-tat sanctions

20 Yemeni civilians killed in air strike

14 killed in opposition infighting in Syria's Idlib

Morocco sentences 25 to prison over W. Sahara killings

Egypt police kill top militants

Heavy rainfall hits Istanbul causing transport chaos

Palestinians protest Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa compound

Saudi police question woman who wore miniskirt

Rebels, US-backed Kurds clash in northern Syria

Netanyahu says Hungary is 'standing up for' Israel

Lebanon army to launch operation near Syria border

Morocco delays currency reform amid speculation

Iran parliament vows to fight US 'adventurism'

4 killed in suicide car bomb at Kurdish checkpoint in Syria

Israel opposes Syria truce deal over Iran presence

Egypt to end visas on arrival for Qatari citizens

Erdogan to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia