Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Al-Assad steps up deadly crack down | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat — While the Syrian city of Homs was recovering from the terrible massacre perpetrated by the Syrian regime in Al-Khalidiyah district, the town of Daraya in Rif Dimashq came under a fierce attack which targeted those participating in the funeral of the victims of the “Sorry Hamah, forgive us” Friday. Security forces opened fire and claimed the lives of 17 participants and wounded 80, according to activists who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat.

This massacre coincided with an all-out assault by the Syrian security forces on the town. The Daraya Coordination Committee for the Syrian Revolution reported on its “Facebook” page that the security forces “stormed Daraya from the bakery roundabout side toward the corniche with Cobra machineguns and erected a roadblock for the shabbihah in the area. These groups opened heavy fire at the automatic bakery areas and Al-Dahadil road. Security reinforcements also entered Daraya in two groups through Martyr Ghiyath Matar Street (previously Al-Madamiyah) and the second group entered in the afternoon and this was made up of two trucks of shabbihah and elements from security officer Jameel Hasan in addition to four antiaircraft guns.

The Daraya Coordination Committee said in its report that “snipers were deployed on buildings since the morning and the regime’s shabbihah erected a roadblock on Al-Dahadil Road and another at Al-Maamil road in addition to third at Al-Radwan Hospital. They insulted the citizens, forced them to undress, and enforced a curfew through the extensive deployment of the shabbihah in the road and the shooting that anything which moved.” Video clips published by the committee documented the raid and the names of those killed by the security men and regular army were also published.

An activist linked the “Homs massacre perpetrated by Al-Assad’s forces at dawn last Saturday to the Daraya assault operation” and stressed that “the majority of the population of Daraya, which is situated around 8 km from Damascus and is the largest town in Al-Ghawtah al-Gharbiyah and its main center, are from Arab tribes that came from Homs and settled in the town which makes them targeted more than any other area in Rif Dimashq.”

The activist told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Daraya’s citizens have demonstrated peacefully since the start of the revolution till now. The town is one of the early centers of the revolution and the size of its demonstrations varied and reached on (Good) Friday in April last year 15,000 demonstrators, three of whom were martyred and 40,000 took part in their funerals the next day.” He added: “The security elements were absent from the town for some time and demonstrations spread after which it was placed under tight security blockade and subjected to a continuous human attrition in the form of daily arrests.” He said “there are around 600 detainees known by their names and the overall number of Daraya detainees is likely to reach 1,000.”

The activist, who has watched all the moves in Daraya since the start of the Syrian uprising, went on to say that “faced with this direct occupation, the youths resorted to “mobile demonstrations. They assemble at a point they agree on, shout their slogans, and disperse quickly before the regime’s forces and shabbihah attack them.” He pointed out that “Daraya restored its protest momentum after the uprising took root in the Rif Dimashq Governorate and got its share of Al-Assad’s repression.”

Daraya’s population divides the work between orchards and furniture making and it is famous for its non-violence policy against the Syrian regime. Most of its activists are students of Sheikh Jawdat Said and influenced by his school which is the non-violent interpretation of Islam and he is considered an important figure in Syria known for his political stands opposed to the Syrian regime.

The majority of its population is Sunnis and there is a Christian minority and from it came the idea of distributing water and roses to the soldiers loyal to Al-Assad. Ghiyath Matar, the non-violent activist who organized the peaceful protests in the town, became prominent which prompted the air intelligence apparatus to arrest him, remove his larynx, and returned him a corpse to his family.