Friday, 15 January 2016

FSA adviser: IS cannot be eliminated without us



 'The FSA is deployed from Syria’s south to its north. It is mostly present in Daraa and Quneitra, represented by the Southern Front, and in the capital, Damascus, the FSA is positioned in the Jobar neighborhood, one of the most contested areas. Al-Rahman Corps and the Shuhada al-Islam Brigade [Martyrs of Islam Brigade], which are also part of the FSA, are stationed in western and eastern Ghouta. In northern Syria, the FSA is significantly present in Aleppo, represented by Thuwar al-Sham, al-Sham Front and Sultan Murad Brigade. [The FSA-affiliated] Jaish al-Nasr [Victory Army], the Glory Army and the Central Division are stationed in Hama’s countryside, while the largest number of FSA fighters deployed on the coast is represented by the 1st and 2nd Coastal Squads and the 10th Brigade.

 The one hindering the establishment of this safe zone is none other than the US. This is not just an allegation. Rather, repeated statements were issued in this respect, [including] by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who said on July 1, 2015, that at that moment, the US did not see a need for the establishment of a safe zone in Syria.
 Meanwhile, the regime’s air force dropped dozens of barrel bombs on Aleppo and Darayya, and the killing of civilians led to daily waves of displacement. Indeed, if a safe zone were established, more than 70% of the people heading to Europe by sea would change their minds. Syrians are not thrilled about the suicide journey to Europe, but they are in search of a safe haven. If such a zone is established, many Syrians will return to this region. We are people who love their country, and we have our culture and our own professions.
 The only reason Syrians are migrating is that for four years now, we have been killed by the deadly weapons of Assad’s regime, and we have lost hope of being saved by the international community.
 The FSA has been fighting IS since before 2014, even before anyone in the world ever thought of fighting this organization. Our fight against IS in the northern countryside of Aleppo and in other areas is independent of any international plan. IS cannot be eliminated without the FSA. We have a history of struggle against all of those who killed Syrians. Therefore, no one can question the FSA’s objectives when it fights IS, because its project is purely Syrian, and it aims to protect Syrians rather than serve other agendas.
 The US is gradually moving from a neutral position toward being a partner in crime as it allows Assad and his allies to kill Syrians. Scary massacres are being committed against Syrians, who have been left to starve to death under siege in the city of Madaya and [killed] by chemical weapons. Syrians are paying a high price as a result of the US policy failure in Iraq and its weakness in the Middle East in general. It is not required that the US send fighters on the ground. This is not what we want. What we want is for Assad to be prevented from targeting civilians and for the [supporters] of the Syrian revolution [i.e. Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia] to be allowed to provide rebels with qualitative weapons. The US supports the Syrian Democratic Forces, which include al-Sanadid Army, one of the regime's militias. We, however, do not trust these forces, and they not surprisingly getting weapons that are hundreds of times more numerous than the weapons received by the FSA.
 Russia’s declaration that it supports the FSA is ridiculous as all facts prove the contrary. Russian airstrikes are ongoing around the clock, targeting our sites and locations. Our position is clear: We will not coordinate or cooperate with Russia.'

A Syrian Response to Obama's Final State of the Union

Image result for A Syrian Response to Obama's Final State of the Union

 'Most people, including most Syrians, are quite willing to believe President Obama’s boast that the “United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period.” And they likely nodded in agreement when he said that “when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead—they call us.”

 The trouble from a Syrian perspective is that calling on the U.S.—and President Obama—for help is exactly what the Syrian people have been doing for years, ever since the early months of their revolution back in 2011, when pro-democracy protesters were marching peacefully, demanding respect for their basic rights, and giving the world a reason to hope. As President Obama himself noted at a time: “we see it in the courage of those who brave bullets while chanting, 'peaceful,' 'peaceful.'” Syria’s peaceful pro-democracy activists could never understand why President Obama chose to turn his back on them, allowing the regime to get away with mass murder, and for radical forces to emerge and hijack their revolution. In the meantime, when their oppressor called on his friends, Iran and Russia, for help, they came rushing in.
 Trump wants us to fear the others in our midst, and all around us, Obama merely wants us to be indifferent to their suffering. The first calls us names, the other merely treats us as nobodies, as a people who cannot be motivated by a simple desire for freedom, but only by a desire to settle some centuries old vendettas. 
 This brings me to Obama’s willingness to refer to the current situation in the Middle East as “a transformation … rooted in conflicts that date back millennia.” This used to be how the right wing referred to the Middle East. It used to be a vocabulary that liberals like Obama spent their time decrying.
 The conflicts in the Middle East have nothing to do with what happened a thousand years ago, a fact a person with President’s Obama’s academic background should know well. Some Middle Eastern leaders might use such rhetoric to inflame sentiments, but the reality is far simpler: on the one hand we have a greedy, corrupt, and authoritarian ruling elite fleecing its people, and using them as fodder for wars meant to expand their influence and enrich their coffers.
 By showing indifference to mass slaughter and dismissing the idea of humanitarian intervention as tantamount to creating another Vietnam or Iraq, President Obama in his own way has helped diminish America in the eyes of the world, just as he allowed Syria to diminish and be torn apart.   
 Yet now we have to listen to the President waxing poetic about the meaning of leadership, saying that “Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right.”
 Understand how this translates to a Syrian: I never thought your cause was right, which is why I never rallied anyone behind it.
 President Obama spoke of conflicts in the Middle East lasting a generation, but here is what he did not tell us: what kind of a region, what kind of a world, does he expect to see in a generation, as he leaves extremists, terrorists, mass murders and Russian and Iranian imperialists to shape unmolested our realities, and as he leaves pro-democracy forces with no one to help them?' 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Syrian activists accuse U.N. of ‘complicity’ in blockades



'In an open letter addressed to Stephen O’Brien, the U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, 112 Syrian civil society activists accused the world body of “complicity” in government-imposed blockades that violate the laws of war.

 “By allowing the [Assad] regime to veto aid to civilians in areas outside its control, you have allowed the U.N. to become a political tool of the war,” says the letter, adding that international humanitarian aid readily flows to government-held territory.

 The letter — compiled and distributed with the help of the Syria Campaign, an activist group critical of Assad — says that U.N. staff members in Damascus, the capital, “are either too close to the regime or too scared of having their visas revoked by the same powers that are besieging us.”
 On Wednesday, a number of influential rebel groups refused to participate in this month’s peace talks in Geneva unless the Assad government allowed humanitarian aid into areas that its forces are besieging.
 Majed Abo Ali, a spokesman for the Unified Medical Office of Eastern Ghouta, a Syrian non-governmental organization, said Thursday’s letter to the United Nations signals mounting frustration in areas cut off by government forces. In particular, he noted, recent U.N. efforts to help broker cease-fire deals in government-besieged areas, such as in the city of Homs, have fostered suspicion among residents. Those cease-fires are commonly known in rebel areas as “surrender or starve” agreements: If rebels do not surrender to government forces or flee the area, they and their families generally must resist while being cut off from food.
 “The U.N. has tools to pressure the government, but it’s not using them, and people are starving as a result,” said Abo Ali, whose organization signed the letter.'

Mini-Republics: A Syrian Village Seeks to Survive amid Carnage

Photo Gallery: A Mini-Republic in Northern Syria

 'The St. Lucie cherry trees were in bloom when the calamity began. It was not unexpected. Indeed, the men of Korin and surrounding villages had done their part to bring it about. Since winter, after two years of an almost static front line, they quickly overran several of the Syrian army's last outposts in the Idlib Province. And soon after regime troops fled the eponymously named provincial capital at the end of March, the bombs arrived. It is a pattern that has often been seen in Syria: Soon after rebels take an army base, an airport or a city, the air force arrives to pound them from above.

 For weeks, regime helicopters circled at an altitude beyond the range of rebel weapons and repeatedly dropped half-ton barrel bombs on Korin. On at least one occasion, a cylinder full of chlorine gas outfitted with detonators was dropped on the village, which is located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the Turkish border. Sukhoi jets appeared between the clouds and fired rockets at those buildings that were still intact.

 It is almost as though someone had devised a wicked experiment to see what happens when everything that serves public order is suddenly removed. When police, courts and indeed the entire state simply disappears without a new one replacing it. And when the old state reappears periodically to spread death and destruction. It is a situation reminiscent of End Times science fiction tales in which marauding hordes find themselves in a constant battle for fuel, water and women. But what is it really like?

 Instead of simply crumbling, public order has merely contracted. "Korin has become a state," says Ajini, "just like all the towns here." A collection of rump states formed in self-defense. For years now, the media has portrayed Syria as being entirely consumed by horror and destruction, by explosions and black-clad barbarians who behead their victims on camera. But there are countless places that -- like islands in a storm -- are doing all they can to survive the fighting.

 The calm is astounding given the fact that it is simple for people to arm themselves. It is easier than ever to kill someone should one so desire, and it has become virtually impossible to hold criminals accountable without risking a blood feud. There are no police, and even if there were, it is no longer possible to call them. Not that a trustworthy judicial system existed under Assad, but there was a state. Today, there is merely a fragile balance that can be disturbed at any time. Everything must be negotiated. The authorities have been replaced by personal relationships and village solidarity.

 
The Western view of the war in Syria tends not to look beyond the Assad regime and the brutally murderous and propagandistically adept Islamic State. The group has taken over huge swaths of land in the sparsely populated desert steppes of eastern Syria, but hasn't made much headway in the more densely populated strongholds of the insurgency -- in Idlib and Aleppo in the north, in Hama in central Syria and in Daraa in the south. For the people living there, however, IS is no less fearsome than it is to Westerners. Indeed, the radical group is often seen as being more threatening in that it is often just a few dozen kilometers away.

 
Even as people from Washington to Moscow are warning of radicalization, a fundamental dilemma facing the opposition is largely being ignored. Village republics such as Korin embody both the promise and the limits of the revolution. On the one hand, the inventiveness and tenacity of these mini-states is astounding. Despite the adversity they face, they work on a local level. But only on a local level. What is happening in Syria is a revolution of localists. They vehemently deplore -- and usually rightly so -- the incompetence of the opposition in exile. But they cannot supplant it. They are aware of conflicting interests even among their supporters -- such as Saudi Arabia in opposition to Qatar, and both against the US -- but they don't join together. They want Assad to fall and they want a halfway fair, functioning state. But nobody knows who should achieve those goals.

 The Russian airstrikes hit northern Syria just as hard in September as the spring bombardments struck the village. Russian warplanes and helicopters flew up to 100 sorties a day, heading for those areas that were to be taken over by Assad's troops or their Shiite allies. But it remained largely quiet around Korin. It is a bit of geographical good luck amid the country's general disintegration. The Russian intervention notwithstanding, the Iranian military leadership in Syria negotiated a locally restricted, yet far-reaching cease-fire directly with one of the largest Islamist rebel brigades, Ahrar al-Sham. According to the deal, two isolated Shiite villages not far from Korin are not to be touched. In return, no airstrikes are to be flown in the entire region.

 It is a bit of calm in the middle of the storm. Some residents have given up anyway and are trying to flee from Korin to Europe. Around 30 people from the village have already made it to Germany, including the son of English-teacher Ajini. He now lives at a farmhouse in eastern Germany.

 Only Abdulhakim, one of the teachers in the village, can tell stories of the journey in person. He spent all of his savings to flee to Europe and made it all the way to Berlin. But a few months later, he returned to Korin. "I was in safety, but I couldn't do anything for my wife and my children as the bombs were falling here," Abdulhakim says. "I couldn't take it any longer." '

Important info about the starvation in Moadamiyah



Translation by Amaney Neihoum

 Damascus suburbs #moadamiya_levant the media office 13-01-2016

  Daily summary of happenings in the city
-----------------------------------------------------

 "Since morning hours the city has witnessed barrel bomb attacks targeting the city's southern frontline and similarly attacks from Shilka trucks targeting residential areas which led to Assad's forces, fortified by heavy artillery and tanks, numerous attempts to advance and take over the frontline but all attempts were in vain due to the heroic
defence by the free army which led to causing losses whilst the Shilka vehicles continued to target residential areas until the late hours of this evening."

 #the_humanitarian situation:

 "Humanitarian disaster is about to befall 45000 civilians including children women the elderly for the 19th consecutive day.
 The Assad forces continue to flex their control by closing the only crossing to the city and denying entry or exit and by denying the entry any relief or humanitarian aid, worsening the humanitarian situation faced by residents. Most of those remaining in the city have not enough to feed their children.

 Whilst the humanitarian situation is worsening there are hundreds of cases of children and the elderly with chronic diseases due to malnutrition and its effects. Also the loss of urgently required medicines.

 Every day the siege continues the situation deteriorates further and today marked the death of Saeed Carbouge (15) a special needs child due to the reduced availability of required medicine and malnutrition and the Assad forces preventing his family from taking him elsewhere , raising the tally of martyrs of the siege up to today at 4: 3 children and a 25 yr old woman . All had deteriorated and the families were not allowed to take them outside the city to receive treatment.

 And due to the loss of the city's water and electricity and heating in these cold temperatures, the families have no means of protecting themselves nor their children from the bitter cold which has mercy for no one."

 #the_medical_situation:

 "The medical staff in the city have announced a dire and catastrophic situation due to their loss of medically important and urgent medical supplies and equipment in the face of increasing numbers of elderly and pediatric patients and injuries from the attacks. Their medical situation is worsened by malnutrition and the cut off of specialized medical supplies for their recovery.

 Everyday dozens of cases visit the centre but with no chance of receiving treatment and so the siege is about to claim hundreds of children and elderly people by preventing them from leaving the city to get treatment due to the compounding of the hardship."

Syrian rebels demand anti-aircraft missiles as airstrikes kill schoolchildren

Syrian rebels demand anti-aircraft missiles as airstrikes kill schoolchildren

 'A group of civilians, mostly schoolchildren, were killed on Monday morning as missiles rained down upon the village of Ain Jara in Aleppo province.

 "A Russian plane fired guided missiles at a residential neighbourhood in Ain Jara, killing 15 civilians including eight children," activist Alaa al-Halabi told The New Arab.

 
Russian air strikes had killed more than 2,300 people since they began on September 30, among them 792 civilians.
Moscow has slammed as "absurd" allegations that its strikes had killed civilians.

 Meanwhile, a major Syrian rebel group has said the best way to push Damascus to a political settlement of the country's civil war was to give insurgents anti-aircraft missiles - and has pledged to control the weaponry if provided. The Army of Islam, echoing opposition concerns over a UN-led drive to launch peace talks in Geneva on January 25, also said it was unacceptable to talk about a political solution to the war while people died of hunger under deadly artillery fire.

 The opposition to President Bashar al-Assad wants goodwill measures - including a cease-fire, a detainee release and the end of blockades on besieged areas - before starting negotiations.'

BBC gets stories from Madaya as Hezbollah wants

Image result for BBC gets stories from Madaya as Hezbollah wants



 ' "The Local Council in Madaya expresses fury and anger over the BBC Arabic’s practices which follow Hezbollah’s al-Manar way in blackmailing and abusing languished Syrian civilians to give statements in which they expressed that they were abused by opposition fighters in Madaya while the interviewees were in Hezbollah-controlled areas.

 Locals in Madaya know the geography of the area and they are certain that the interviewees are not from city.

 Also the local council disowned Naser Fares and his sister Zahraa Fares who appeared on BBC. Locals in Madaya certainly know that Naser and Zahraa had never lived in Madaya."

 BBC has turned the shield to the Syrian people and stood beside the victimizer, Assad, against the victimized Syrian people. Its policy has become shoring up Assad and reviving him and turning a blind eye to the tens of thousands of women and children who are slaughtered en masse by Assad barrel bombs and Russian bombardment, Syrians added.'

 See also, "BBC parroting Hezbollah: People of Madaya are besieging themselves!"*

*[http://www.orient-news.net/en/news_show/99174/0/BBC-parroting-Hezbollah-People-of-Madaya-are-besieging-themselves]

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Life after torture for Jordan’s refugee population

Image result for Reclaiming Hope, Dignity and Respect: Syrian and Iraqi Torture Survivors in Jordan

 'Ibrahim owned a shop located near several security and intelligence offices in the Syrian town of Deraa. He was arrested there on three separate occasions simply because of his shop’s location. While in prison, he was beaten with the barrel of a rifle and still has broken teeth. He was blindfolded and suspended from a ceiling for hours at a time. Guards threatened to hurt his wife. For Ibrahim, the psychological torture was worse than the physical. He describes feeling deep paranoia and having chest pains when hearing the sounds of sirens.

 Now, Ibrahim lives in Jordan. His ordeal is one of 64 harrowing narratives from Syrian and Iraqi refugees now residing in Jordan collected over two years by the Centre for Victims of Torture (CVT), which provides trauma rehabilitation services. The centre’s new report, Reclaiming Hope, Dignity and Respect: Syrian and Iraqi Torture Survivors in Jordan, takes a close look at the psychological scars left behind. Jordan has seen a massive influx of refugees — nearly 630,000 registered Syrian refugees and increasing numbers of Iraqis — as a result of the ongoing Syrian war and the advance of Daesh.

 In the case of Syria, according to the report, the overwhelming majority of those interviewed who were tortured claim to have had no role in any opposition movement. With no reported involvement in demonstrations, revolution or armed groups, many interviewees were swept up arbitrarily in the violence and government crackdowns. They happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, often their own homes or at checkpoints. The torture was not used to extract information, simply to cause pain and create fear.

 For those who had either participated in demonstrations or attempted to document such events, the treatment was especially brutal. Kareem, an independent photographer who took photos of demonstrations, told CVT how he was forced to watch the gang rape of his wife and killing of his son before enduring brutal physical torture himself. Fatima, whose husband was a member of the Free Syrian Army, had her 12 year old daughter taken by Syrian troops, who used her as a lever to force her father to surrender in order to save her life. He did, and was killed.'

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Aleppo neurosurgeon on the frontline: 'Textbooks never prepared us for the injuries we see'




 'The most difficult situation that we encounter is massacres, when many injured people and martyrs come to us at once, especially a large number of children. Unfortunately, in any massacre, over half of the martyrs and injured are children. The injuries are mostly critical injuries. You might find a child whose body has been severed in half, decapitated, one who has lost limbs or lost an ear or an eye, or maybe he is crippled because of critical injuries. Truly, these are the most difficult times for us. Not because of exhaustion, but because of emotional stress--we sympathize so deeply with wounded children. When confronted with an injured child, I often feel helpless.
 In the beginning, we saw new injuries that we did not know how to treat. Fortunately, at the beginning of the revolution and when we began working in field hospitals, there was more freedom of movement. In 2012 and 2013, there was no such thing as “barrel bombs” and there was no violent shelling from airplanes, so many visiting foreign doctors came. Qualified experts from the Arab world and other countries taught us techniques that we did not know and personally trained us in treating fairly complicated injuries. But even so, they told us that they were seeing injuries that they had never seen before in books or textbooks or in the hospitals where they worked in their home countries. Unfortunately, reality forces you to learn.
 In general, the regime targets medical facilities everywhere because it knows that they are the key to survival. Without them, life stops. The second reason [for the targeting of the medical infrastructure] is part of the strategy that the regime follows. It appears that it focuses on Aleppo, more than other locations, for many reasons. Firstly, the city has a large population. Secondly, it is near the Syrian-Turkish border. There are some Shiite-majority villages around Aleppo, and for that reason Iran has more influence [in Aleppo] and thus a greater desire than the regime to retake control of Aleppo. Medical facilities in Aleppo are therefore targeted more so than in other areas.'

I WANT TO BE WHERE I WANT TO BE: HERE OR THERE

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 Mariam Haid

 'One of my indelible memories is the date of my arrest: January 10 2014. It was a Friday morning. I went in through the door of the Criminal Security Branch. I just walked along, listening to the sounds they were all making. I stood in the corridor for quarter of an hour, then I went into a room where there were two people. They both started to hit me. I didn’t know why they were beating me, and I started to think about them: ‘This must be their way of welcoming us to make sure we’re scared from the very beginning – but I wonder what’s gonna happen next?’ They used an electric cattle prod on me, punched and kicked me, and when they’d finished with me they took me out of the room and had me stand again.
 
 I was subjected to torture three times a day, each of them exactly the same: an extremely cold shower. The interrogator would say to me ‘Good morning . . . I’ve got a cold shower here, so be my guest, have a shower and have a think.’ He would turn the shower on, put me under it, and leave. It occurred to me that I might turn into someone with a fear of showering, after I got out of detention. I began to be scared from the onset of physical torture.

 Someone from the Syrian Electronic Army was brought in, who didn’t even know how to open my account. This person was examining my Facebook account and saw a chat message to me from a user called ‘Aleppo Liberation Front’. All it contained was a single phrase, the standard greeting ‘Peace be with you’ which I hadn’t ever answered. The investigator said to me, ‘You are involved with fronts in Aleppo, and you are acting as a pair of eyes for your brother who is wanted by the Political Security Branch and who left you in Syria so you could be a spy and tell him everything.’

 After an interval of the usual torture, they decided to bully me up in the air. They tied my hands together, hung me up by them and then introduced me to ‘Lakhdar Brahimi,’ who I had heard so much about and had hoped never to meet. I didn’t feel humiliated by the torture methods I was subjected to; what hurt me were the words they used – I wasn’t used to hearing them or to saying them. I felt that I was a thing these people owned, that they were trying to abuse my body so that the pain would seep right inside me, into wherever they couldn’t gain physical entry.
 After a month and a week had passed they put me on the ‘flying carpet’, the most painful torture method of all. After they had finished they forced me to walk on my feet, and put Epsom salts on them so they wouldn’t swell, or perhaps so that they could torture me again in the same way, but I feigned being entirely unable to walk for a whole week so as not to have a second experience of that method.
 One of the stories that I remember well was of a woman from Hama who lived with her husband and her two children in Lebanon. She decided to visit her family with her children,  and she told me that she was seized at the border because of a deliberately deceitful statement made by one of her relatives. She knew nothing of what had happened to her two children; she used to cry a lot, and stop when she got hold of a cigarette. Another woman used to live in Jaramana, and was accused of stealing cars – even though she couldn’t drive. She used to lend me her clothes after every cold shower I was subjected to.
  On March 15 2015 we made a video about media fabrication to be shown on the television programme ‘The Watchful Eye’, so that our torture would stop and we could wait to get moved to Adra prison. I had a sense of great loss that day. I wanted to say, ‘Leave me be, I don’t want to talk and I don’t want to get out.’ But I did want to get out of there, and I paid the price.
 What do I want to say about the amount of darkness I saw in there? What about the faces that cried for help over and over with no response, and the echo of the voices pleading their innocence – ‘Leave me alone . . . I didn’t do anything to deserve this punishment! Why are you hitting me? Why are you humiliating me? For God’s sake, stop it, please! I kiss your hands, I kiss your legs, I’m begging you! I’ve got children and a family, they’ve only got me to take care of them! For God’s sake stop it stop it, I can’t take any more!’ – what do I want to say about them? What do I want to say about all the cruelty, oppression and inhumanity? I want to say this: I was and I am still with revolution, but the feelings inside me have become more intense. It is impossible for us to accept a regime like this and a bloodthirsty serial killer of a president who violates human rights. I want Syria to be liberated, and for there to be an end to the suffering brought by barrel bombing and depraved Russian planes. I want the people of Syria to be freed from the fear and anxiety that every bomb brings, and for their children to dream ordinary dreams with no rockets in them, no machine guns, and no blood – dreams as tranquil as their peaceful sleep.
 I know that everything has its price. We will get our freedom, even if it takes a while.'

Monday, 11 January 2016

UN chief concerned by Russian raid on Aleppo school

UN chief concerned by Russian raid on Aleppo school

 'At least 17 people, including eight children, were killed Monday after a Russian jet bombed a school in the town of Ain Jara in Aleppo, local activists said.
 Monday's massacre followed a series of air raids Saturday on the opposition-held Maarat al-Numan district in northwestern Idlib province. The attacks, blamed on Russian warplanes, left dozens of civilians dead, according to activists.
 More than 570 civilians have been killed since Sept. 30 when Russia began airstrikes to prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, according to a December report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
 "The international community must act quickly against Russia’s flagrant crimes against the Syrian people including children, women and the elderly," said the Syrian National Coalition, Syria's main opposition group.
 "Russia’s actions in Syria, while representing a continuation of Assad’s terror since the start of Syrian revolution, are designed to break the will of the Syrian people and undermine the political solution." '

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Qaeda in Syria abducts prominent media activists



 ' "Al-Nusra Front kidnapped at 0655 (0455 GMT) activists Hadi al-Abdallah and Raed Fares in the offices of Fresh FM where they work and live in Kafranbel," said Soner Taleb, head of media at the Syrian National Coalition.

 According to a statement published by Fresh FM, Al-Nusra fighters stormed the radio station and confiscated its broadcasting and technical equipment as well as its electricity generators. "The Al-Nusra members then gathered all of the revolution flags and burned them in front of everyone," the statement said. The flag featuring three red stars over a green, white and black tricolour, in use before President Bashar al-Assad's father and predecessor came to power, is the symbol of Syria's uprising.

 "Raed is the founder of Fresh FM, and he's an amazing person," said activist Ibrahim al-Idlibi, "He did not take up arms at all, not even for personal use... he always came up with new ideas, always strived to be better."

 According to Fresh FM employee Ahmad Buyush, Fares, 41, was a medical student when popular anti-regime protests began across Syria in March 2011. "Raed is the revolution, in all meanings of the word."

 Abdallah shot to prominence in 2011 when anti-regime protests erupted across Syria, before the country's descent into civil war. Last year he was one of four journalists who interviewed Al-Nusra's head, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani.

 Al-Nusra did not specify why they arrested Fares and Abdallah, but Buyush suspects it could be a show of force in Kafranbel, which has been in rebel hands since 2012. "I see that the reason is to sabotage and terrorise. They've begun to take control and impose their word, and they began with us," Buyush said.'

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Translation of Hadi Abdullah's testimony of the events of today:
"I don't know where to start...
This morning officers from Jabhat al Nusra raided our Media Office in the city of Kafranbel, along with the Radio Fresh headquarters and the headquarters of the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus offices near ours.
The accusations:
*A Facebook post¹ by Raed Fares, the director of the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus in Idlib, that contained something prohibited by Shariah..
*Airing songs with music on the radio
They pulled out all the closed doors.
They raided the headquarters, walked all over our things, and confiscated all our electronics: the radio transmitters, laptops, cell phones, satellite internet, all our cameras, including the beloved martyr Trad AlZahrawi's camera.
I told them that these tools and electronics are mine, they answered me
"Then, we will give them back to you."
I asked them to just give me back Trad's camera, but they refused and went on with the raid.
They took all the electronics as well as some furniture!
They kept pulling the doors out of their frames in the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus, that belong to us!!
They confiscated all the computers, files, and some books..
One of the revolution flags we had raised in a protest yesterday was near a door inside, they threw it on the floor of the headquarters near the front door, so that anyone walking in or out would have to walk on it, they stepped on it with their feet several times!!
A small revolution flag that was on my desk, they stepped on it too..
After that they wrote on the Radio Fresh building, the media offices, and two small rooms on the roof of the office (that I had built when I first got to the north), they wrote: "Confiscated by Jabhat al Nusra, Do Not Approach"
For an hour and a half we were detained inside the office, not allowing any of us to leave.
They then took media activist Raed Fares to an unknown location because of the accusations mentioned above..
After long discussions with the leaders and legislators of Al Nusra all day,
we conceded to the "mistake by Shariah" that Raed had written and provided guarantees that it would not happen again!
Jabhat al Nusra acknowledged its mistake in raiding, and said it would take care to resolve the issue, promising that it would return all confiscated materials, and provided guarantees that it would not happen again, and released Raed.
I thank with all my heart those who asked about me and were worried, with you our revolution continues brothers and sisters.
There is more to talk about, but right now I'm very very very tired!
I hope you wake up to good news, victory, and freedom."
¹يا أمة إقرأ
طالما أن الدكتوراه التي نحوزها تنحصر في “الحيض والنكاح” وأن جل اهتمامنا ينصب حين نتمكن على مابين شفتي الرجل”السكارة” وبين فخذي المرأة وطالما أننا نهتم بما تلبس المرأة أكثر من ما يجب أن تتعلم ونسوق الناس إلى الصلاة سوق القطيع , ونتخم المدارس بالكتب الشرعية.. فأبشروا بألف سنة أخرى.. نقتل في بورما وشرق الصين وفي مضايا وسوريا وسائر المشرق.. ودأبنا سيبقى معايرة معايير الأمم الأخرى وإنسانيتها
الحق بقوته, والقوة بالعلم, والعلم حق
"As long as the doctorates held by few are limited to 'menstruation and sex,' as long as most of our attention is fixated on what is between the lips of a man (cigarettes) or between the thighs of women, and as long as we care about what women wear more than education, and as long as we herd people to prayers like sheep, and as long as we are forcing Sharia books upon schools... Then I am happy to inform you that we have ahead of us 1000 more years of war... from Burma and East China to Madaya and Syria and all the East. We have and always will judge the morals and humanity of other nations.
Truth has power, and education is power, & education is a right."
[https://www.facebook.com/raed.fares.5/posts/932858020131747?pnref=story]