RAMTHA, Jordan — The family crept across farmland under night’s cover, heading for the border, when Syrian troops opened fire. Bullets whizzed around them as they broke into a mad dash, survivors say. The 6-year-old boy, holding his mother’s hand, broke away and ran ahead. He nearly made it into Jordan when he fell dead, a bullet in his neck.
The boy, killed in the early hours Friday, was the first Syrian shot to death by border guards while trying to escape into neighboring Jordan from the bloodshed of their homeland’s 17-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad. The slaying underlined not only the danger of the passage, but the fine line Syria’s neighbors have to tread in trying to help Syrians while avoiding being dragged into the conflict.
Bilal el-Lababidi and his parents were in a group of around a dozen Syrians trying to sneak into Jordan just after midnight, the latest of more than 140,000 Syrians who have taken refuge in Jordan.
‘‘He is a martyr who is now in a better place. I’m sure he is in heaven,’’Lababidi’s mother said before the boy’s burial later Friday at a cemetery in the northern Jordanian city of Ramtha. She made it across with her two younger sons — but her husband fled back amid the shooting.
‘‘The criminal Bashar is the reason,’’ she said, slapping her face with her fists as she wept. ‘‘Bashar is killing his people and the whole world is watching and doing nothing.’’
The family — Bilal’s father, mother, and their three sons— were fleeing from their southern Syrian hometown of Daraa, which was where their country’s uprising began 17 months ago and which has continued to be a major battleground between rebels and regime forces. Bilal’s father is a corporal in the regime military but had decided to defect, the mother said.