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.

 

Iraq forces launch operation to retake west Mosul

US backs political solution in Syria claim allies

Turkey eyes strong US alliance, despite Trump splits

At least 14 dead in Mogadishu car bombing

Bashiqa brings back booze to clear IS hangover

Iraq digs anti-IS trench around Ramadi

Israel's Lieberman fears Palestinians will dilute 'Jewish state'

Arab leaders, Netanyahu held secret peace meeting

Obesity a major health problem in Jordan

350,000 children trapped in west Mosul

UN envoy to Syria : 'Where is the US?'

UN says aid to Sudan expected to drop

Mosul civilians divided over Iraqi army advice to 'stay home'

US-led coalition praises Iraq's 'militias'

Egypt tourism shows signs of recovery

Former Ahmadinejad VP eyes Iran presidential bid in May

Turkey car bomb kills child, wounds 17

Russia seeks 'post-West' world order

Veteran Moroccan politician M'hamed Boucetta dies

Iran set to conduct new military drills

Viral video shows Syrian boy caught in barrel bomb attack

41 jihadists executed by rival group in Syria

Erdogan begins campaign for referendum to expand powers

Turkish shelling kills 9 in IS-held Syria town

Erdogan supporters 'increasingly demonising' 'no' voters

Rare ancient busts rescued from Palmyra to be returned

Turkey weekly shut down over ‘distasteful’ Moses cartoon

Greek army denounces 'serious' Turkish navy violation

US under pressure on Syria ahead of Geneva talks

Residents of ‘liberated’ east Mosul still live in fear

Migrants smash their way into Spain from Morocco

Two UAE soldiers dead in Yemen

Turkey ruling party official steps down over 'civil war' warning

Trump ambassador pick sceptical of two-state solution

Trump fears may bring Iran, Gulf closer together

UN insists two-state solution remains 'only way'

Jordan detains 700 jihadists since Karak attack

Massive Baghdad car bomb kills at least 45

UN says Syria should allow aid convoy as ‘goodwill’ gesture

18 'terrorism' suspects in Saudi Arabia

Shabaab extremists claim attack on Somali inauguration ceremony

Turkey begins ‘clean-up’ of remaining jihadists in Syria town

Tunisia extends 2015 state of emergency for three months

Israel’s rightwing joyous at Trump shelving two-state solution

Iran says Israel 'biggest threat' to world peace