(Full statement can also be found here)
At few points in history do moments arise for utopic visions of society to be put into practice. The Paris Commune. The 1968 protests. Tahrir Square. Often, in the face of the more powerful and armed forces of authoritarianism, these experiments prove to be short-lived.
In Daraya, the beating heart of the Syrian revolution, the vision lasted for five years. A vision of peaceful co-existence and solidarity amongst different religious sects, a vision of non-violence in the face of brutes, a vision of democratic self-organisation within the impossible conditions of war and siege. A vision of democracy in an area long-chided for its supposed incapability for democracy.
Much has been written about Daraya’s democratic experience – a list of such writings can be found at the end of this statement – and how it served as an exemplary model of a democratic uprising ignored and often actively portrayed as non-existent by the Western world. This statement will not focus on what Daraya was and continues to be in the hearts of Syrians and those who stand in solidarity with them; rather it will focus on how one of the Syrian revolution’s most beautiful democratic models was brought to an end, and who helped to end it.
The fall of Daraya – where protesters once came out with roses to greet Assad’s army – to the forces of the fascist Assad regime, following a five-year long heroic resistance in the face of more than 7,000 barrel bombs, napalm, white phosphorus, posion gas, thermite, vacuum missiles and cluster bombs, will go down in the annals of history both for the length of its miraculous resistance in the face of such odds, and the betrayal which led to its fall.
The regime’s surrender terms included the forced displacement (“evacuation” according to the Assad regime and UN) of more than 7,000 Syrian civilian residents and families. In the aftermath of Daraya’s fall it has also emerged that the regime is resettling Iraqi Shia militiamen and families in their place— comprising a clear attempt at engineering a forced demographic change and continuing a policy of sectarian/ethnic cleansing pursued in other recaptured territories of Syria.
Whilst unequivocally condemning the starvation siege and carpet destruction of the city of Daraya by the fascist regime and Russian occupation forces, leaving behind a barren desert landscape of destruction and scenes identical to the last city which suffered a major “victory” by the regime – Homs; we should note nonetheless that this was not the only or even most important reason for Daraya’s fall and the defeat of its heroic resistance. The fall of Daraya must first and foremost be placed at the feet of the US-led coalition – and in particular the US government itself – whose sly and underhanded support of the regime these past five years is as obscene as the unabashed and overt Russian support for it.
The following are amongst the ways in which the US and some of its allies have supported the fall and ethnic cleansing of Daraya:
According to a 26th June statement by the Southern Front Daraya had been largely subject to a ceasefire (albeit with violations) since the agreement of a Cessation of Hostilities between the US and Russia on the 26th February 2016. However this truce reportedly ended on the 8th June, and in the next 20 days more than 560 barrel bombs would fall on Daraya (including 56 in the day before the 26th June statement). Residents noted that the escalation of aerial bombardment seemed to coincide with the entry of small amounts of aid (sufficient for only 1,000 people) on the 10th June; one local fighter called the aid “a curse… we wish it never happened”.
As a result, on the 11th July 2016 the besieged Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels and civilians of Daraya issued an urgent call for the “general mobilisation” of the factions of the Southern Front, the dominant rebel coalition in South Syria. The call was co-signed by more than 225 opposition civil society figures and activists nationwide, encompassing journalists, doctors, lawyers, leaders of armed factions, human rights, media & women’s activists and members of local councils and Local Coordination Committees (LCCs). On the 18th July, 50 veteran community leaders added their voice to the call, amongst them heads of courts, professional syndicates & scholarship associations and local notables. Their calls fell on deaf ears.
The Southern Front is the major rebel coalition in South Syria, part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and possessing up to 35,000 revolutionary fighters. Since 2013 the Southern Front had been receiving limited support, mainly from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via the “Military Operations Command” (MOC) room in Jordan, subject to the restrictions decided by US and Jordanian officials. Jordan – which continues to recognise the Syrian regime’s legitimacy – has opposed further regime losses in South Syria, a policy synonymous with that of the US government. As has recently been revealed Jordan has long been stealing weaponry purchased by Saudi Arabia meant for the Syrian rebels, and has repeatedly closed down rebel supply routes, leading to counter-threats against the Jordanian monarchy by revolutionary brigades in Dara’a (South Syria). The isolated and besieged local rebel faction fighting in Daraya, the “Islam Martyrs’ Brigade”, was also a member of the Southern Front.
In the last few months the MOC demanded a total freeze on battles against the regime in South Syria, threatening that rebels would be cut off from support if they continued to fight Assad. With the acquiescence of corrupt rebel commanders in the Southern front who offered the memory of the Summer of 2013 – when thousands of rebel lives were wasted during an offensive on Damascus, after ammunition supply lines were cut off by the Jordan MOC – as an excuse for inaction, Daraya’s call for help fell on deaf ears.
The intervention of Iraqi Shia militias in Syria has been well-established since 2013. In Iraq the Shia militias have been supported by the United States, either directly as an ally in the fight against the Iraqi insurgency (which broke out in 2012 and which ISIS has come to play a prominent role in) or indirectly through the US-backed central government in Baghdad. The abuses of many of these militias have been well-documented since the aftermath of the fall of the Saddam regime in Iraq; however in the past few years their abuses have reached a new scale as part of the US-Iranian “War on ISIS”, destroying tens of thousands of homes in areas retaken from ISIS and expelling hundreds of thousands of Sunni Iraqi citizens.
It is estimated that there are more than 30 Iraqi Shia militias fighting in Syria, notably including such brigades as Abul Fadl al-Abbas, Harakat al-Nujaba’a, Kata’ib al-Imam Ali, Liwa al-Imam Hussein, Asa’aib Ahl al-Haq, and Faylaq Badr. Together these Shia militias are estimated to number between 20-000 to 30,000 fighters, making them the single largest fighting component in the motley of loyalist forces fighting on behalf of the Assad regime. They have surpassed in importance the role of both the regime’s regular army (the so-called “Syrian Arab Army”/SAA) as well as the Lebanese Hezbollah; indeed, their prominent role in the fighting and marginalisation of Syrian loyalists has led to internal criticisms from Assad’s own camp, criticisms which Assad subsequently rebuffed when stating “Syria is not just for Syrians or those who hold Syrian citizenship, but it is for those who defend it.”
In Daraya, as in other places in Syria, it was Iraqi militias (not Hezbollah or the Syrian Army) that took the lead role in fighting the local resistance The regime’s troops stationed on the Daraya frontline had been trying to capture the town for five years, yet they were left exhausted and failed to capture the town by themselves.
Since the fall of Daraya footage has emerged of Iraqi Shia militias celebrating their holy victory on the ruins of the city, whilst reports have also confirmed that the Assad regime plans to resettle 300 Iraqi Shia families into the city, replacing some of the local families comprising 8,000 Syrian civilians forcibly expelled as part of the regime’s surrender terms. This represents a clear policy of sectarian/ethnic cleansing by the fascist regime and an attempted re-engineering of the area’s demographic character, as pursued in other recaptured areas in Syria (notably the province of Homs)whilst also fulfilling the role of “rewarding” the efforts of the Iraqi Shia militias and offering further incentive for Iraqi Shia militiamen to come to Syria.
The entry of the Iraqi Shia militias into the conflict since 2013 on the side of the Assad regime has effectively been veiled from public knowledge by the US administration, despite their overwhelmingly important role as a main player in the conflict. These militias have been seen fighting in Syria with US-made tanks and weaponry. The Shia militias believe their fighting in Syria to be a holy war and a continuation of the first civil war in Islam, which broke out after the death of the Prophet Muhammad more than 1400 years ago.
Neither has the invasion of the Iraqi militias of Syria earned them or their backers any repercussions; indeed military and financial American support for both the Iraqi government and its militias have actually increased since their intervention in Syria – during this time the US has reportedly given $1.2 billion in military aid to the Assad-allied Iraqi regime. Despite the presence of US forces in the vicinity, the militias travel freely from Baghdad airport to Damascus and indeed Syrian ministers themselves – despite theoretically being subject to US sanctions– move freely in the opposite direction as well.
It is important to note that since the start of its direct military intervention in 2014 the US has exclusively targeted anti-Assad forces (including mainstream anti-ISIS rebel brigades not delineated as terrorist groups). However it has never targeted, not even once or “by mistake” (as has repeatedly been the bad luck of rebel factions ) these foreign occupying militias, adding more substance to Syrian claims that US policy in Syria is that of “regime-preservation” and the staving off of its collapse, particularly with the severe manpower depletion of the Assad regime’s regular army (especially from 2014 onwards)  – a policy in which these militias (as well as other transnational Shia militias, notably from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Lebanon) have “filled” a crucial role.
The regime that the United States brought to power in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq is today a crucial diplomatic and military backer of the Assad regime. It surely constitutes one of the most morose ironies in history that Syrians who revolted in 2011 as part of the Arab movement for genuine democracy and freedom are today being killed by the very regime which the United States put in place in Iraq under those pretexts. This irony has not escaped Syrians. Not only did the US invasion in 2003 result in the destruction of Iraq, it is today helping Assad to destroy Syria.
Daraya within wider Western and American policy
What has happened in Daraya is but part of the policies that Western powers – as ultimately defined by the dictates of the US – have pursued towards Syria, a policy which can be described as appeasement in the exact meaning of the word: that of the Western policy towards the rise of Hitler, Mussolini, General Franco during the 1930s. It has consisted not simply of the failure to intervene militarily against the regime but of a systematic five-year long policy of propping up the regime through a patchwork of policies, preventing its collapse and making sure a prolonged “equilibrium” between the forces on the ground exists and is constantly maintained. Most crucially as part of this policy is the proactive blind eye that the US-led coalition has shown to the entry of tens of foreign Shia militias fighting for Assad, coming not least from US-allied states such as Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These sectarian militias now constitute the bulk of Assad’s forces and their entry was crucial to simultaneously “balance the field” and stop the collapse of the Syrian regime and the manpower-depleted Syrian Army. This policy has ultimately prolonged the fascist regime’s survival and consequently the conflict (see our previous statement and event description dated 17th July 2016 for more details of such policies ).
Describing the Syrian regime as “fascist” is not to use emotive or exaggerative language – the regime fits the archetypal fascist model using every recognised definition. It had defined itself on its formation under Hafez al-Assad – who represented the right-wing of the military Ba’ath party – as a “nationalist-socialist” regime, and was (and remains) founded on the corporatist fusion between private business and capital with the state. The regime was constructed on the amalgamation of the private and public spheres and the complete subjugation of civil society to the state, with everything from trade unions to women’s organisations coming under the auspices of the state (which in turn was centred on the cult of personality built around the figure of Hafez Al-Assad and later his son). It constructed a highly militarised totalitarian society – using for decades the excuse of a war with Israel (when in reality a state of war had not existed with Israel since a ceasefire in 1974) – whereby every citizen was ultimately subject to the permission of one military agency or another to conduct the most basic of personal affairs, and whereby the Assadist state employed hundreds of thousands of informers to spy on their fellow citizens, creating for decades a state of fear unparalleled under any other regime in the region. The lengths that the regime has gone to safeguard its rule when challenged in 2011, carpet bombing entire of “its own” cities to the ground, was unfortunately predicted by many as the inevitable projection of its underlying nature.
The Syrian civil war has often drawn comparisons with Spain for the dynamic of international fighters joining the conflict, when the much more poignant similarity lies in the shared uncontested and prolonged use of aerial power by the fascist forces, along with the simultaneous blockading by Western powers of the necessary defensive weaponry required by the anti-fascist forces (whilst rhetorically “condemning” the fascist ones). Indeed, the Assad regime has now surpassed the record held by General Franco of a government’s deployment of an airforce within its own borders: Spain’s Guernicas have been surpassed by Syria’s Aleppos and Darayas. The former (Aleppo) has been subjected to more aerial bombardment than any city since the Second World War.
However one difference which did not occur in Spain has been the exploitation by Western powers of the absence of any formal delineation of the Assad regime as “fascist” (i.e. by contrast to the unabashed proclamations of the likes of Franco and Hitler) to add their own airplanes to join the Assadist fleet. That this is happening in the 21st century is an event of such momentous implications that it cannot be overstated. The US and British governments are sharing airspace and intelligence with Assad’s regime; joint airstrikes are reported to have been conducted with the regime since 2014, and in some cases both American and British airstrikes have come in active support of Assadist ground troops.
The constant pronouncements of “we believe Assad must go” concurrent with the intermittent “but we are not seeking the collapse of the regime and don’t want to see his army militarily defeated” has unfortunately deceived many within Western public opinion about the true nature of the US intervention in the Syrian war, and hidden from Western citizens the horrific nature of this policy which has been crucial in prolonging the Syrian war. Indeed whilst the main anti-ISIS coordination with ground forces has come with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – who do not fight Assad – and instances of coordination with regime troops have been limited, there have nonetheless been more reported examples of anti-ISIS coordination with regime forces than there has been with Syrian rebels.
This policy of regime preservation – not “regime-change” – has been clearly and repeatedly laid out in statements by US officials. The US policy of drawing a fictitious delineation between the Syrian regime and its apparatuses and the figurehood of Assad “himself” (as US Secretary John Kerry was once careful to specify) is an insult to the intelligence of the Syrian people. Demands for the retention of the Syrian Army and the rebels surrendering their fight against it, whilst simultaneously proclaiming to be pursuing an “anti-Assad” policy has long stopped washing with them, and they understand full well that messages which declare that “Assad is bad but his army is good” is further proof that US policy in Syria has been one of regime-preservation, opposition to the demands of the revolution. and lip-service stemming from an unfortunate commitment made during the Arab Spring’s breakout in 2011 and the pressuring euphoria surrounding it.
We ask for the British government to distance itself from the US policy, and note that the US does not share the challenges that Europe and the UK do as a result of the continuation of the Syrian conflict and Assad’s continued genocidal survival in power. We ask them not to fall into the trap of accepting that Assad’s survival is “necessary”, in the false belief that his destruction of the rebellion would stop the war and “stabilise” the situation; noting that the destabilisation caused so far by every Assadist victory and every instance of mass expulsion of civilians from areas conquered by his militias will be nothing compared to the destabilisation unleashed by the defeat of the rebellion in this war. And we remind them that there is no “Syrian Army” that they can rely on, but a collection of mainly foreign sectarian loyalist militias who are alien to the land and will be evicted by the Syrian people sooner or later.
Yet whilst stating this we also declare that we will no longer accept any policy of equivocation. We will no longer accept statements appeasing the Syrian people concurrent with policies appeasing the Assad regime. If the Western powers present in Syria do not get out of the way of Assad’s removal they will sooner or later be viewed as an occupier similar to the regime, Russia and the sectarian militias. The Syrian people have lost trust in the Western powers and now demand their departure from the arena, after understanding full well following the experience of five years that Western intervention has served to preserve a genocidal regime and not to bring it down as was their cry in 2011.
To be clear and to remove any pretence of a movement on the ground which can be self-servingly cited to confer legitimacy on the British or American intervention – as was the example of former Prime Minister David Cameron’s symbolic nod to the “70,000 moderate forces” (which include the Southern Front factions which have been told by British officials not to fight Assad) – or the fictitious Pentagon “Train and Equip Programme” which came as an adjunct to the 2014 US intervention (and which again demanded recruits to sign a declaration not to fight the regime, leading to its collapse for the low number of recruits ) – the presence of Western powers in conjunction with Assad is not welcome in Syria, not welcome by Syrian revolutionary forces, not welcome by civil society organisations and not welcome by the hundreds of democratically-elected local councils. If Western powers seek to continue their five-year policy of regime-preservation equivocation we declare to them that today that time has passed, we will no longer be toyed with, and that if this is their chosen route they are now better served coming out explicitly in favour of Assad.
We repeat many of our calls to the British government that we asked of the US government, including:
1) The immediate end to all demands for the cessation of fighting by the FSA’s Southern Front.
2) The withdrawal of American and British intelligence officials from the Amman-based MOC and their replacement by officials from regional anti-Assad allies.
3) The cessation of British support to regional states including those that continue to support the Assad regime, such as the Assad-allied Iraqi government, Egyptian government, Pakistani government, Afghani government and Hezbollah-dominated Lebanese state. The transnational border-crossing sectarian militias must evacuate Syrian territory immediately and British pressure be brought to that effect.
4) The immediate end to efforts to interfere, restrict and limit the supplies of weaponry to the revolutionary Syrian people needed for their self-defence – including the immediate lifting of the ban on the supply of anti-aircraft missiles by regional allies.
4) The withdrawal of British special advisors based on Syrian territory, and
5) The end of the one-sided British military intervention in the conflict.
The US, Britain, Jordan are behind the fall of Daraya, as are all local and regional actors which acquiesced to this treachery. It is those who have long chided the Arab and Islamic world for its “incapacity” for democracy, for its tolerance of authoritarianism, for the pliant and seemingly coercion-favouring nature of its numbers that played a key role in the ending of one of the most potent organic experiences of democracy in the Arab world: history will remember this.
For more on Daraya’s astounding democratic experiment in the face of impossible odds, please see:
 “West cooperating secretly with Damascus against militants: Assad” – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-assad-idUSKCN0ZG28G
 “The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change, as it is known, in Syria… What we have said is that we don’t believe that Assad himself has the ability to be able to lead the future of Syria.” – http://www.wsj.com/articles/john-kerry-in-russia-in-effort-to-keep-syria-talks-on-course-1450183175
“Russia and Iran should not be so stubborn here that they tie this whole thing up simply because of one person” – http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/255245-kerry-syrias-assad-needs-to-go-off-into-the-sunset
Stop the War Coalition hosted Crispin Blunt MP – who would later vote for airstrikes on Syria a month later – on a platform about bombing Syria in which they stopped Syrians from speaking. Crispin Blunt incidentally made a case for intervention from the STW platform – he just doubted its efficiency without coordination with the Syrian regime on the ground. He later changed his mind.
In other words, Stop the War stopped Syrians speaking whilst allowing someone who would then vote to bomb their country to do so.
Of course, they continue to slander opposition to them as an attack on them with the laughable notion that they are the leaders of “anti-imperialism” – when they have routinely hosted pro-interventionists (Crispin Blunt was just one example) on their platforms (detailed article coming soon).
The guy was also a supporter of the Iraq War (though he turned against it, but nonetheless) which didn’t seem to dissuade STW from inviting him.
Event in Question: https://web.archive.org/web/20151102041712/http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/events/stop-the-war-events-national/02-nov-london-parliamentary-meeting-syria-the-case-against-military-intervention
The clashes at the event also featured on the Daily Politics show.
Hands off Assad, not Hands off Syria.
I can’t wait to see how the Assad-apologists of Stop the War Coalition, Salon, Jacobin, 21st Cenutry Wire etc. will explain this, but here’s the prediction: “this is proof that the FSA have been extremists all along”.
The useful idiots in the “alternative” media and “anti-war” movements who’ve been promoting the fantasy that “the US is trying to get rid of the Syrian regime” for 5 years – whilst ignoring the actual (declared) US policy of regime-preservation intervention in the country – have become the divinely-ordained unwitting Trojan Horses of US imperialism in Syria. Yes, those same people who’ve been the prime apologists of Assad in the name of “anti-imperialism” have actually been unwittingly covering up imperialism’s actual main intervention in Syria. So how many people know about the military bases that the US has constructed on Syrian territory? Or the US special forces that are fighting on Syrian territory? How many people know of the thousands who’ve left their homes or been besieged by the US airforce and its YPG/SDF allies on the ground? Or the US flags that are flying on Syrian territory? Not many – you see the “proxy force” through which the US has been able to do all this, the Assad-collaborating YPG are “left-wing” just like them, so “Western imperialism” doesn’t really count. (Also they don’t have beards and aren’t as easy to demonise with orientalist imagery as those Allahu Akbar shouting “Islamist savages” (i.e. the “so-called” Syrian opposition)).
No one knows that the only major protests against the Americans, since 2014 and until recently, have been by rebel populations. So no one knows of the FSA rejecting America’s intervention, repeatedly since 2014, a rejection the YPG refused. No one knows that the FSA were the first to fight ISIS in 2013, and that the Americans not only refused to support them, but later actively blockaded help in that battle. Why? Because whilst the Americans “aren’t supporting ISIS” (ask the thousands of people who’ve been killed by the Americans in the name of that fight), they allowed it to grow.
How many people know of the tens of thousands of airstrikes by the US in the name of the renewed war on terror, or the 2,000 civilians and 45,000 fighters (be they radicalised or not – the US is a bigger terrorist than them) who’ve been killed by the US airforce in the last two years? Well not many, because the narrative has been that actually the US has been in effect supporting ISIS – or ISIS-likes – to get rid of the “real target”: Assad (who we’ve been coordinating intelligence and airstrikes since 2014 with the regime’s own admission) and Iran (whose militias of course we’re actively giving an airforce in Iraq). ubsequently those who’ve been promoting the theory that actually it is Iran that is under attack by the US, not ISIS have devised the following formula: The West backs ISIS and other extremist groups = denial/non-recognition of tens of thousands of airstrikes by the West against ISIS and other groups = denial of casualties arising from non-existent airstrikes = denial of scale of suffering caused by the West
How many people know about Assad stating that the West is passing him intelligence to hit opponents? Or Iraqi militias entering in their tens of thousands from the regime the Americans put in place next door?
Syrian moderates? Ha, don’t make us laugh. No, all the Free Syrian Army, all the 100,000 rebels, are extremists/ISIS-lite. Those who protested in 2011 all disappeared or became extremists. Huh? Islamophobia? What Islamophobia? Well you’ve just repeated Assad’s claim that millions of his population are terrorists or terrorist sympathisers. “Pfft, only the far-right do Islamophobia”. Well maybe that’s true – and considering that the far-right also repeat verbatim the same “leftist” Assad apologism, maybe idiotic, orientalist, Western-narcissist, Islamophobic, racialist Assad-apologists theoretically on the “left” should be labelled as far-right. They’ve earned it.
To keep calling them “anti-imperialists” would be a disservice to the word: they have ignored overwhelmingly the major role of Western (US) imperialism in this conflict. They have unwittingly served as the Trojan Horses of American imperialism. They are the “counter-counter-imperialists”.
The result? The USA’s role in actively supporting (not “non-intervening” as some would have it) a 21st century genocide – something which would normally be inconceivable because of an aware public – has been unknown to the world.
Thanks, you posturing fake fuckers. Hope you’ve enjoyed your moments in the sun.
The Syria Solidarity Campaign will post a full-report on the US role in Assad’s genocide. Until then, anyone interested can read their event description (for a protest in front of the American embassy in London a few months ago) and this piece by Michael Karadjis on “who has the US bombed, bombed for and bombed with” in Syria.
2011 is our 1968, but were unfortunate enough to be Muslim instead of leftists. Aleppo is our Guernica, but we were unfortunate enough to be persecuted by “secular” fascists instead of “religious” ones.
Long live the Syrian revolution. Long live 2011 and the struggles of the Arab masses for freedom and self-determination.
UPDATES: The US has reportedly bombed rebels near the town of Al-Rai (where the incident took place).
Furthermore, the “Ahrar al-Sharqia” FSA brigade, which was involved in the expulsion, have released their statement. The SSC post also provides context for their anger, and how they’ve been insultingly undermined for years by the Americans in every single way.
Related (though not comprehensive) recent posts
Syrian Arab Republic
The Free Syrian Army
The false proponents of justice and freedom and the ‘guardians’ of human rights and democracy continue to insist on trading with the tragedy of the Syrian people and their corpses, taking from the Nakba [catastrophe] and ordeal of this poor population an arena for their competition and struggles for influence and interests, and a tinged road on whose sides drip the blood of the innocents in order to achieve some gains and ambitions, laying beneath their feet all of the meanings of justice and humanity and leaving behind their backs the demands for dignity and freedom.
Subsequently, a few days ago we received details of the /US-Russian/ agreement concerning a ceasefire to hostilities and a general truce in Syria accompanied by the entering of humanitarian assistance into the besieged neighbourhoods of the city of Aleppo, and after a careful study of those clauses and an in-depth reading of the whole of the internal and external challenges and the humanitarian and military realities on the ground and the complex political scene, the factions of the Syrian revolution view it as necessary upon itself to clarify to its people before anyone else the host of reservations it has with regards to this dry and unjust agreement:
– Firstly: The incredible humanitarian tragedy that our people and families are subjected to have always placed at the head of our priorities the necessity to improve the humanitarian situation of the rebelling Syrian people and especially in the liberated areas, and proceeding from this feeling of responsibility we have always taken care to evaluate international initiatives and truce proposals that are presented to us so long as they do not compromise any of the revolution’s fundamentals and its higher interests.
– Secondly: With our assiduous commitment to alleviate the burdens off our families we are nonetheless also assiduous in avoiding quick and temporary gains which are faced with certain dangers which will have a negative effect in the long run, such as some of the truces that may stop the bombardment and barrel bombs for a few days or allow the entry of limited quantities of food and medicine in exchange for hazarding the future of the revolution and losing strategic points and locations to the regime of criminality and its allies.
– Thirdly: The international unwillingness and indeed impotence to take any effective measures that can stop this massacre or ease the weight of the bombardment and siege of our people is no longer a secret, meaning that the only option remaining to us is to rely on our lord first and then on our self-capacities and the justice of our cause second, and to proceed in our battle against the regime and its allies until the last bullet in our rifles and the last fighter from our heroes.
– Fourthly: We welcome the decision to allow the entry of humanitarian aid to the besieged areas of Aleppo and we declare our full co-operation in the achievement of this, and the safeguarding of protection for the workers in international and humanitarian organisations; however at the same time we categorically refuse tying these assistances (which are a right for Syrians) with any locational truce or alleged political solution from which we have gained nothing until this hour but additional killing, destruction, displacement and overlooking of the killers and criminals; likewise we cannot ever accept any exceptions in the agreement’s clauses to the rest of the besieged ares exhausted by bombardment and siege, and whose people are being pressured by the “starve or kneel policy” pursued by the regime of criminality and terrorism to deliver these areas [to new settlers] and expel its local population as occurred in Daraya and is occurring now in Homs and the countryside of Damascus; this ethnic cleansing which it has become entirely evident is being conducted on sectarian bases which aim to create demographic changes in these areas, the matter which we will not accept under any circumstance and will resist with all means and ways available.
– Fifthly: The ceasefire terms in its current form leaves open the field for the regime and its allies to exploit it and commit more massacres against civilians and achieve strategic military gains that it was impotent to previously achieve which raises for us serious fears and doubts about the timing and clauses of this truce, for prevailing the long-term interest of the revolution is placed before momentary or temporary gains with our full trust that the regime and its Russian and Iranian allies and the rest of the terrorist border-crossing militias will never abide by them and will circumvent them with every means and methods.
– Sixthly: The ceasefire terms were vacant from any reference to real guarantees, monitoring mechanisms or clear and injunctive punishments in the event that the regime and its allies break this ceasefire; which will encourage them to break it and utilise it to achieve political and military gains (as in the previous occasions).
– Seventhly: The ceasefire clauses declared that the prohibition on regime warplanes sorties won’t occur except after 48 hours of truce have been completed, to be followed by another 5-day truce after which a “Joint Execution Group” will be formed to adopt monitoring mechanisms which we see as plenty opportunity for the regime to engage in more killing, destruction and [sectarian/ethnic] expulsion.
– Eighthly: The terms of the ceasefire have excluded Jabhat Fath al-Sham [The Front for the Conquest of the Levant] whilst it has completely turned a blind eye to the foreign sectarian militias that fight with the regime, and which have been committing its crimes since years in Syria with absolute freedom and without accountability or monitoring, and we consider this matter a dubious and rejected double standard. Accordingly we refuse the targeting of Jabhat Fath al-Sham or any other faction which fights the regime which could weaken the military strength of the revolution and strengthen the Assad regime and its allies.
– Concluding: We affirm that the Syrian people and its factions will never forget who killed them and who bombed them and who besieged them and who burned their cities and villages, and on the other hand they will not forget who supported them and stood with them in their plight and sacrificed in defence of their blood and honoured possessions.
Have trust that we will never settle for disgrace in the principles of our revolution and we will not give in to the pressures and cheap political and humanitarian blackmail that is being practiced against us, and we are are fully aware of the malicious traps that are set up for us in order to sink us in a swamp of concessions or lead us to infighting that tears the ranks and disperses the common word.
On the oath we remain, to the rope of God we hold fast and with his strength and might we seek recourse, not damaged by those who failed us, until we perish without [attaining] our right and freedom and dignity, or God writes for us victory and the prevailing of our revolution.
[Commonly-known name in bold]
Faylaq al-Sham [Levant Legion]
Harakat Nour al-Deen al-Zinki [Nour al-Deen al-Zinki Movement]
Al-Fawj al-Awal [First Corps]
Al-Ferqa 101 Mushah [101st Infantry Division]
Faylaq Homs [Homs Legion]
Jaish al-Islam [Army of Islam]
Al-Itihad al-Islami ly Ajnad al-Sham [Islamic Union of the Soldiers of the Levant]
Jabhat Ansar al-Islam [Supports of Islam Front]
Al-Ferqa 13 [13th Division]
Liwa’ al-Fath [Conquest Brigade]
Al-Ferqa al-Shamalia [Northern Division]
Al-Jabha al-Shamia [Levant Front]
Kata’ib al-Safwa al-Islamia [Al-Safwa Islamic Battalions]
Al-Feraq al-Westa [Central Division]
Tajamu’ Fastaqim Kama Umert [‘Be Upright as Ordered’ Union]
Jaish al-Nasr [Victory Army]
Jaish al-Tahreer [Liberation Army]
Liwa’ Suqoor al-Jabal [Hawks of the Mountain Brigade]
Liwa’ al-Horiya al-Islami [Islamic Freedom Brigade]
Jabhat al-Asala wal Tanmiya [Authenticity and Development Front]
Jond Badr 313 [Soldiers of Badr 313]
Logos of signatory factions
[From top left to bottom right: Hawks of the Mountain, Badr 313, Fastaqim Kama Umert, Central Division, Liberation Army, 101st Infantry, Islamic Union (Ajnad al-Sham), Islamic Freedom Brigade, Division 13, Safwa Batallions, Victory Army, Levant Front, Northern Division, First Corps, Sham Legion, Jaish al-Islam]
Brilliant piece on recent FSA-SDF clashes.
Two rival linking plans at expense of Daesh in northern Syria: Green – rebels, Yellow – SDF, Black – Daesh, Red – Assadist. Distance between rebel-controlled territory beyond towns of al-Rai and Jarablus now only 10 km.
By Michael Karadjis
(An abridged version of this article appeared in ‘The New Arab’ under the title ‘Tensions tried and loyalties tested in northern Syria’, at https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2016/9/2/tensions-tried-and-loyalties-tested-in-northern-syria).
One week the United States rushed to the defence of its Kurdish allies, People’s Protection Units (YPG), when the Assad regime bombed them in Hasake; the following week many pro-YPG voices were accusing the same US of betrayal, for supporting Turkey’s intervention into Syria, with 5000 Free Syrian Army (FSA) troops, to expel ISIS from the border town of Jarablus.
However, fickleness would not be a useful explanation of US behaviour. Rather, both events suggest that the outlines of a regional understanding on a reactionary…
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