On the back of a lorry, 45-year-old Aysha Moarri is sobbing and holding a white, quilted body bag.
You were the only reason I survived, so how are you leaving me here? How am I going to breathe now?".
There's her daughter inside. The bodies of five additional family members lie beside her.
At the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between southern Turkey and opposition-held northwestern Syria, it's another chilly, sunny afternoon.
Families of Syrian refugees in southern Turkey who lost loved ones in the earthquake there last week have gathered to assist in the repatriation of their remains.
The smell of death is pervasive all around us.
After their six-story apartment building collapsed, Aysha, her husband Nouman, and their four-year-old granddaughter Elma were the only people to survive. .
Two daughters, one son, two granddaughters, and their son-in-law were all lost, and Aysha and Nouman were still looking for him.
The family sought refuge in the southern Turkish city of Antakya eight years ago after fleeing the civil war in Syria in search of a new beginning. More than half of the city's structures are now damaged, leaving it in ruins.
Each Syrian victim brought to Bab al-Hawa has their name written on the body bags in blue ink so that they can be recognized when they return home.
"Look out for one another. Aysha kisses her daughter's body through the white cloth and says, "Shirin, my dear, take care of your brother and sister and my beloved grandchildren.
She clearly doesn't want to let go as her fingers continue to cling to the lorry as it starts to move away.
When he sees the truck crossing the border, her husband starts to cry.
"Bye bye, my lovelies. You're all going home now. Nouman waves his bandaged hand and says, "You will be together.
The bodies of Syrians found under the rubble are transported in five additional lorries that arrive at the border the following morning. Some do not have body bags; they are simply wrapped in blankets.
Two glass pomegranates are sitting on a shelf among the debris from the Moarri family's apartment in Antakya, both of which are undamaged. Still hanging above the table is a painting. The remainder of the space is in ruins.
Ali, who was engaged to Viam, Aysha's middle daughter, continues to sift through the debris while donning a high-visibility vest.
He demonstrates where he discovered Viam's body. Despite the fact that they had been together for four years, he had only just one week before the earthquake convinced her father to approve of their engagement.
We continued to text each other on WhatsApp well into the night. We had trouble falling asleep, he claims.
Around 4:00 a.m., he received a text message from Viam asking if he was awake because she had experienced an odd nightmare.
The earth began to tremble as they were in the middle of a video call.
I had just advised her to avoid thinking about her nightmare. We then declared our love for one another. She was quietly laughing while sitting on her bed, Ali recalls, desperately trying to contain her tears.
"I saw her trying to run, but she was slowed down by the fact that her phone was plugged into the wall. The image then went black. The display went dark. " .
Ali, a fitness instructor with experience in combat training with the Syrian armed opposition, was able to defend himself by slinking under the table in his room.
"I fled when the earthquake was over. Our entire neighborhood suffered greatly.
"I can't recall how I got to the neighborhood where she [Viam] lived. Due to the blocked roads, it took me twice as long. ".
When he arrived at the apartment building, a impromptu rescue effort set up by neighbors was already underway. He invited friends to come along. There was no official assistance for hours.
Ali claims that he and his friends have some background in search and rescue because they come from parts of Syria that the Syrian government has frequently bombed during the conflict. He continues, "Syrians must help Syrians.". .
The Syrian government has control over a portion of the vast area of northwestern Syria affected by the earthquake. Armed opposition groups to President Bashar al-Assad control another area, where the Moarri family is from.
Because there are numerous parties to the conflict, as well as nations that support them, coordination of the rescue and aid operations has been extremely difficult.
Ali holds grudges against the international community, claiming that strong nations are using Syria as a theater for larger conflicts, suffering the Syrian people as a result.
"Thank God Turkey is a strong country because the entire world came to help. What about Syria, though?".
"I don't want to talk politics, but from a humanitarian standpoint, we don't even have homes, let alone electricity or clean water. " .
"Our homes have been destroyed by the war, and now the earthquake," he continued. Naturally, we accept anything that is from God. But I ought to say to everyone: enough. ".
After eight days of looking, Ali finally located his beloved Viam's body. When she passed away, she was holding her brother Mohammed.
Ali is currently searching for additional Syrian families with a group of 15 other fellow Syrians.
They're covered in fine concrete dust. Our eyes are gritted, and our hair is turning grey because it is everywhere.
According to Turkish authorities, more than 2,306 bodies were transported into Syria during the first 10 days following the earthquake.
According to the Turkish border police, it was a sizable operation for them and difficult to coordinate. Sometimes they are prepared to send the bodies, but the receiving side is not. Sometimes, the situation is reversed.
We notice a man cuddling the body of his three-week-old child that is covered in a small blanket as we get ready to leave. In an area of Idlib Province that is controlled by the opposition, he is requesting assistance to return her body to their home.
He had extricated his daughter from the wreckage and transported her to Turkey for medical attention. However, she did not make it.
Ten days after the earthquake, the Moarri family discovered the body of the last person they were looking for. .
Ali responds, "Why are the Syrian refugees sending their family members' bodies back to Syria?".
We call it home. It's the place where we still harbor dreams of returning someday. Our loved ones should be there to greet us.