Beirut: As fighting is raging in major Syrian cities refugees have streamed across the border in the thousands, settling with relatives wherever possible.

Syrian Armenians are among those who are fleeing, and many who can afford to move back to Armenia are doing so.

But the vast majority are settling with relatives in Lebanon until the situation back home returns to normalcy.

Lina, a middle-aged woman who fled with her children, speaks of the horrors she left behind in Aleppo. “Shabiha came and beat up businessmen who closed their shops in Aleppo,” she said. Shabiha, are pro-government militias with a notorious reputation for savagery.

“Some were beaten so badly they had to be hospitalised,” she added.

Her young son witnessed a bombing in the Syrian capital and was severely tramautised by the experience. “He sobbed uncontrollably for two days,” she said. But her son is among the many Syrian children exposed to such brutality and devastation. Many children, Lina says, are displaying aggressive behaviour and will be pyschologically affected for the rest of their lives.

While Lina and her children are safe in Beirut for the time being, she remains nervous. “I fear for my community’s long-term survival,” she said speaking about Armenians in Syria. She is among many minorities in Syria who fear that the collapse of the regime will adversely affect their respective communities. Many minorities still believe the Baath regime protects them.

Lina is particularly grateful that the regime opened its doors to the Armenian survivors of the 1915 genocide at the hands of the Turks. “We remain loyal to the country, and I cannot wait to go home,” she said.