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Syrian refugee Basel Baradan, an 18-year-old farmer, is one of many Sunni Muslims who blames Shiite Muslims for the war.
ZAATARI, Jordan--At this Syrian refugee camp opened in the desert just two months ago, anger sizzles in the scorching sun.
It is anger at being crowded with about 32,000 other people onto a parched, treeless strip of land, where the day is too hot and the night is too cold. But it is also a murderous anger among the Sunni Muslims here against the Shiites back home, whom they blame for the war. Many Sunnis oppose President Bashar Assad's ruling regime, which is Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
"When I return, I will kill any Shiite I see with my dagger. I will chop him to pieces," shouts Basel Baradan, a bitter 18-year-old farmer who fled the southern town of Daraa with his family in July. He is weeping.
Jordan now hosts an estimated 200,000 Syrians, including those not registered with the U.N.--the largest number of refugees taken in by any neighboring country. After months of delay, Jordan finally opened its first official refugee camp in July at Zaatari, near the border with Syria.
Already, about 30,000 refugees live at the camp, and they keep coming. This poor desert nation says it can no longer afford to welcome Syrian refugees into its towns and houses.
So they live apart at Zaatari, and they grow angrier. Late Monday, dozens of furious refugees hurled stones and injured about 26 Jordanian policemen, demanding better camp conditions or their return home.
Baradan's father Ghassan, 50, also a farmer, says that with the ubiquitous dust, snakes, scorpions and swings in temperature, living at Zaatari is a "worse struggle than Assad's missiles falling on our heads back home." He too is angry, and blames Shiites under Assad for killing Sunnis.
Baradan lived most of his life exchanging visits and sharing meals with Shiite neighbors. But he grew increasingly resentful in recent years because he thought the Shiites were getting more food and money, and were supported by Iran, a Shiite Muslim nation.
"Sunni Muslims have no respect in Syria and we fled here to find ourselves confined to this dirty prison," he sighs, puffing on his cigarette under a once-white tent, yellowed from the desert sun and heat.
The thirst for revenge that is palpable at the Zaatari camp does not bode well for Syria's future.
Baradan's tent is marked with the Arabic scribbling "Get out, Assad." Outside, a group of young Syrians lines up to fill buckets with drinking water. One of them, Mohammad Sweidan, 17, wears a green T-shirt with an Arabic emblem that reads: "Proud Sunni."
"Shiites and Alawites are not Muslims," he says. "They should be killed because they are infidels, who are killing the Sunnis, the true believers and followers of Islam."
Under Baradan's tent, his 46-year-old wife says she worries about ending up stateless, like Palestinian refugees displaced in wars with Israel. She cries as she cooks lunch on a small gas stove.
"I never thought we would become refugees like them," says the woman, who calls herself Um Basel after her eldest son, in keeping with conservative Muslim tradition. Her husband interrupts. "Even the Israelis do not treat the Palestinians the way Assad is treating Sunnis in Syria."
In a corner, Basel too is crying as he gazes at video on his cellphone of his 9-month-old nephew, Rabee, left behind in Daraa with his family.
"What is keeping me going is this video," he says, tearfully. "I can't wait to see Rabee again. I miss him dearly."