TLB Preface: Ariyana Love is not a western journalist taking her story from a wire service. Or a MSM flunky following a prescribed and approved format. She has a plethora of experience in the region and has walked and lived among those affected by the death and suffering daily. From Tel Aviv and Palestine to Damascus, her stories come from those who know the truth first hand.
TLB strives to bring you the truth, untainted and without an agenda or bias, We all know what the MainStream Media, our State Department and the Syrian government have to say, but what do the people of Syria have to say No matter your opinion on this catastrophic civil war please open your mind because … this is a story you owe it to yourself to read.
From Those Who Suffer: The Syrian Revolution – What You Need to Hear
By: Aryana Love, TLB Contributor
Most people don’t know that a Revolution began in Syria, three years ago. It’s the first time since WW2, we are witnessing such brutal and aggressive behavior from a dictator against his own people.
The Syrian Revolution began in Darra, Syria March 18th, 2011. A group of children of different ages, less than 16 years, wrote on the walls of the streets against Bashar Al Assad’s regime. Statements like, “Regime should fall” and “Fall Bashar” were written in the streets, on the sides of buildings in spray paint and in chalk. A superior officer of Bashar’s regime, Atef Najeb, arrested the children. He was responsible for the Secret Police in Darra and a superior officer of the Regime. He was also a relative of Bashar. Atef Najeb, along with other officers under his orders (it’s not known how many) arrested and tortured these children for many hours. All of the fingernails of each child were pulled out. One of the children, Hamza Al Khatib died as a result of the brutal torture. Before he was delivered the fatal bullet that killed him, Hamza’s genitals were cut off.
The fathers of each child gathered and went directly to Atef Najeb. They requested to solve this problem peacefully and asked that each of the officers be punished for the tortures and murder of Hamza Al Khatib. These fathers descend from a very ancient culture in Syria. They are indigenous, natives of Darra, with a cultural tradition dating back thousands of years. They dealt with the situation in a dignified manner. The father’s took off their shemagh (head cover) before Atef Najeb. This is a display of honor and the meaning being that they will not wear them again until the matter is resolved and their demands are met. Atef took their shemagh’s and put them into the trash. He told them, “Ok, you lost your kids. I will send my men to your wives to make them pregnant so you will have more children”.
Then the respected elders of Darra, went to Bashar to tell him what happened there. He promised the elders he’d do something to solve this problem, but he did nothing. The people of Darra began to protest. They were peaceful protests, asking for justice.
After many days, Bashar sent his regime to Darra. They fired live bullets at the crowd and people were killed. The numbered remains unknown, as the Regime won’t release that information.
After this, people from Homs, began protests in their city. Approximately two months into the Revolution, during one famous demonstration, the residence of Homs were exclaiming, “Darra, we are with you until death”. There’s video footage of this, although it remains still not translated from Arabic language.
The people of Homs were also dissatisfied with their mayor, Iyad Gazal. He was corrupt and had been stealing money from the city for about two years. So they began to demand his removal along with offering their support to Darra.
More than one year before the Revolution, Iyad Gazal had begun a project in Homs called “The dream of Homs city”. The sponsor was a company in Qatar run by his brother. The project would destroy most of the old part of the city, which is a cultural heritage site. The economy of the city depends on this area. It was also a major tourist attraction. Iyad wanted to build a new metropolitan city, like Dubai. The people refused this project. They knew most of the profits would return to Iyad and his family. So, Iyad forced water to stop going to retail shops in the old city. He began sending police to harass and send the lower income street merchants away by taking their tables.
The economists in Homs formed a small group who went to Bashar’s office in Damascus on many occasions. Each time he refused to meet them and at last, he told them, “The mayor, Iyad Gazal knows what to do”.
Iyad was director of Al Hijaz in Damascus, a railroad company and he had stolen a billion Syrian pounds (20 million dollars). Iyad had a good relation with Bashar. The surprise in this story is that Iyad defected from the regime. He escaped with the money to Dubai about 4 months later and disappeared from view.
he first 6 months of the Syrian Revolution, were peaceful protests. Bashar himself said this in one of his public speeches. Homs and Darra didn’t know if Bashar had knowledge of the crimes his regime was committing against them. The people were not yet against Bashar. They were only asking only for change.
Bashar sent his soldiers to seize Al Khaldia neighborhood in Homs when protests began there. The civilians started to cook for the regime soldiers. Bashar fed his soldiers only one sandwich per day. They were hungry so the people fed them. When the regime noticed there were emotions between the people and that group of soldiers, Bashar replaced them directly, bringing in a new group. He sent with them Secret Police to keep their eyes on them, to be sure this group of soldiers would do whatever the regime says.
The first major massacre by Bashar’s regime took place during the first major protest in Homs. In support of Darra and in protest against Iyad, most of the neighborhoods gathered in Al Dablan Street. Throughout the day, they came to the center, near the New Clock Tower that later became a symbol of the Revolution all over Syria. Homs City is known as the capitol of the Revolution.
Men and women of all faiths, families and children joined this protest. Christians prayed along side Muslims. They could be heard exclaiming, “One, One, One. People of Syria are one”.
By the evening time, 40,000 people had gathered. Bashar’s Secret Police came to the Sheiks (Muslim priests) who were also demonstrating with the people, and told them to tell the people to leave. They were told the regime would be coming at 2am. The people refused to leave. At 2am, the regime and Secret Police came from all directions to the New Clock Tower.
They were shooting in the air at first. People fled, but when they noticed the gunfire was fired towards the sky, they returned to the clock tower. Then the regime pointed their machine guns at the crowd. They opened fire killing approximately 400 people. After everyone fled, the regime took control of the clock tower square, shouting, “By Souls, By Blood, we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Bashar”. The regime brought in tractors and scooped the bodies into the trucks. They did not differentiate between the dead and the wounded. They were all dumped into the trucks. The bodies were taken to the national Hospital of Homs and the Military Hospital. Both are government owned, offering free health care. They stuffed the bodies into the refrigerators. Some were still alive. They brought fire trucks to wash the blood from the cement. The next day, the regime channel, Al Dounia, made a video declaring, “All is calm and there’s nothing to fear. The regime has secured the area”.
Since this massacre, the Regime made up a different version of the massacre in Homs. They released another account on the Regime TV channel announcing the protestors were shouting, “Christians to Beirut and Alawites inside the coffins”. There are video’s showing the true version with the people exclaiming, “One, One, One. People of Syria are one”.
A few months after the New Clock Tower Massacre (as it’s known in Syria), Bashar came on the regime TV and announced, “Some of you think I don’t know what my army is doing, but I know everything they do. I’m the Chief of my army”.
The people were shocked. If Bashar had punished Atef Najeb for torturing the children in Darra, everything would have been solved. The Revolution would not have begun. Instead, he executed the first massacre of people in Homs, forcing the people into a Revolution.
Protests continued in Homs and Darra, the number of protestors grew by the day and spread all across Syria. But now the focus had shifted and the people were demanding that Bashar leave his office. Bashar repeatedly promised to solve the problems in Darra and Homs on national news, but he failed to do so.
The Regime began to fire into the air at crowds of protesters and also directly at protestors killing or maiming them. Bashar began to facilitate the sales of arms to the residents of Homs and Darra. Members of Bashar’s Secret Police were pretending to be civilians and against Bashar and his regime, in order to bring a decent amount of weapons into the city. Then the Regime became more aggressive and began killing more civilian protestors than before. At this point civilians began carrying whatever weapons they had in order to defend themselves at protests. And now that a small number of civilians were armed, Bashar had an excuse to start bombing neighborhoods. One fateful night, in Al Khaldia, the Regime fired the first ground rockets, killing 200 people while they slept. Following in the footsteps of his father, Hafez Al Assad, Bashar attempted to make an example of the protestors, by bombing Al Khaldia. Hafez Al Assad did the very same thing in Hama City in 1982, with the Hama Massacre, that killed 40,000 civilians.
Many Regime soldiers started to defect from the Bashar’s army and join forces with the civilians who were armed with weapons. The first to defect was Hussin Harmosh. He formed the first opposition group of rebels. Defected Regime soldiers together with the armed civilians, led by Harmosh, formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Known also in France as ASL.
Harmosh was from a village of Idlib city. In less than 6 months, Bashar destroyed the house of Hussin, arrested and tortured him. He disappeared never to be seen again. As soon as Bashar discovered his defected regime soldiers were together with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) of civilians, he released more than 60,000 criminals from prison, to form his first mock FSA group. It didn’t matter what their crimes were. They were ordered to commit more terrible crimes on civilians that could be blamed on the true FSA. He did this so the people of Syria would begin to hate FSA and love Bashar’s Regime again. This didn’t work however and the people still demanded their freedom.
Bashar punished the entire village of Hussin Harmosh (First leader of FSA) by massacring and bombing it to shreds. He spared no one. Men, women and children were brutally massacred.
Other groups of soldiers began defecting from the regime, forming more FSA groups with civilians who carried weapons, all across Syria. Battles between the Regime Army and FSA were first in Darra and in Homs city and some of the neighboring villages. The battles then spread to the Southern neighborhoods of Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib and their neighboring villages. At this point, FSA was facing the tanks and rockets of the Regime with Kalashnikov machine guns.
For about the first 21 months, there was still no insurgent, terrorist groups inside Syria, such as Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Islamic State of Damascus and Iraq, etc.
About the author:
Arianna Love is currently enrolled at Academy of Art University, getting her Bachelor’s degree in Film directing. She spent the past 9 months living in the West Bank, Palestine, studying the Israeli occupation, Palestinian culture.