At times this week, it seemed as if the entire southern Syrian province of Deraa had emptied itself into the Zaatari refugee camp over the border in Jordan. As far as the eye could see, new tents and trailers were being prepared for the thousands of new refugees streaming across the border to join the 32,000 already there.
“We’re afraid of the regime’s final offensive,” said Faisal Abu Dahlush, a farmer from the village of Tafas. “Because the army fired Scuds, we think they’re going to use chemical weapons. We stayed in the village until now to farm our land. But we can’t take the risk of staying with our women and children if they fire chemical missiles.”
Out of fear of the rebels, the Syrian army has changed tactics. Instead of placing roadblocks near villages, they are now firing rockets from afar.
Although the US no longer believes that the regime intends to use chemical weapons, the refugees continue to flee for the safety of Zaatari.
Syrian government forces also targeted Yarmouk, home to more than 100,000 Palestinian refugees, killing at least 25 people. Palestinians who flee to Jordan are incarcerated in a separate camp. With over half the population of Jordan descended from Palestinian refugees, the country is anxious not to allow more Palestinians establish themselves.