Posted by Joshua on Thursday, September 6th, 2012
The Formation of Alawite Militias in the Kassab region
By Mohammad D.
For Syria Comment, Sept 5, 2012
There are important new developments in Lattakia and its surrounding recently. The violence that started a few months back in the East and North of the city itself has not subsided. Yesterday a rumor spread that the FSA had shelled al-Qurdaha, something its leaders have been wishing to do from day one. I think it is just a rumor, but, the big news is that the Alawis have started to form armed groups in some of the villages which are in direct contact with the Sunni villages.
The Alawis in areas that are not near the front lines have also begun amassing small arms. They have also begun to form similar groups. One of these groups appeared in the area of Jabal al-Turkman (North of Lattakia). These new fighters are known locally as al-Lijan al-Sha’biyah (اللجان الشعبية). So far they have light arms only. The Assad regular troops are doing the heavy bombing and own the heavy arms. Here is a link to their facebook page, which lists them as al-Muqawamah al-Suriyah (The Syrian Resistance).
In this Facebook page, one can see that the newly formed group has been engaging in military action against the Sunnis from that area. The Sunnis (Turkmen) had formed their own brigade, which is fighting under the banner of the Free Syria Army (FSA). The FSA has attacked the nearby Alawi villages on many occasions. One Alawi village; al-Sarayah, has been emptied of its inhabitants, except the men who are armed and fighting along side others in al-Lijan al-Sha’biyah. The Sunnis have also left their villages and gone to either Turkey or Lattakia city. Lattakia is now overflowing with refugees and villagers escaping violence. There are lots of people from Allepo there also. The sports complex is packed with the poor refugees, The rich ones are renting apartments or rooms. Also, to the East of Lattakia in al-Haffe region, fighting is still raging on. The sound of artillery and explosions can be heard in Lattakia. The situation on the coast is explosive and growing more dangerous every week.
Another interesting phenomenon is that Turkish Alawis are writing in Turkish on the same Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/syr.moqawama — that is being used by Syrian Alawis. This seems to indicate that Alawis in Syria and Turkey are starting to work together.
Picture of Kassab, near the Turkish border
End of Commentary by Mohammad D.
A different take on what happened in Qassab from the Guardian
Our colleague Mona Mahmood has been speaking on the phone to Lieut Col Abu Ahmed of the rebel Ahrar al-Sahel brigade which is fighting in the Latakia area. This is what he told her.
We have two military [observation] towers for the Syrian army in Latakia countryside which are used as bases to attack and shell people living in villages nearby.
There were six tanks at al-Qassab tower and another six at al-Barouda tower. These 16 tanks claimed the lives of many civilians and wounded many of them, in addition to the great damage they caused to the houses. They were based on high hills and overlook wide areas.
We as the revolutionary military command in Latakia decided to launch an operation against these towers to curb their damage. We did the required intelligence and reconnaissance secretly before the operation and chose the brigades to carry out the operation last Monday at four in the morning and with more than 650 fighters.
We were able to get control of al-Qassab tower completely and destroy five of the tanks inside, except for a tank and rocket launcher which are under a siege by our fighters. We were engaged in clashes with the Syrian army in control of al-Barouda tower and were able to push them backward.
As a result of the attack, we lost 28 martyrs and 40 wounded while the Syrian army lost 70 soldiers and 120 wounded. We were able to capture 11 members of the Syrian army and took them as hostages.
We work in the countryside of Latakia which is liberated of the Syrian army now – al-Akrad mountain and 90% of Turkman mountain is liberated. The liberation war is still going on from the countryside to reach the heart of [Latakia city].
It is difficult now to get work inside the city, it is cut off by many checkpoints and full of Syrian army and shabiha.
All the villages we are in control of now are Sunni. So far, the position of the Alawites in Latakia is ambiguous. We want a clear stance from them. We have sent them many messages telling them that we are not against them or targeting them but when their villages are used as a base for tanks to launch attacks against other part of Latakia, they become like witnesses to the killing of the Syrian people.
Personally I support that we join the Syrian National Army but we will hold a meeting for all the commanders of the revolutionary military command in Latakia to discuss [it] and will take a decision whether to join or not
“This is a corrupt, undemocratic police state, but what is going on is not a war in Syria but a battle by outside players for Syria,” he said in an August interview in an office at the Writers Union building in Amman.
Mr. Muwaffaq Mahadin, a prominent opposition figure who writes for the independent Jordanian daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm, has extensive pro-democracy credentials. He was arrested several times for his political views and was even forced to flee the country for a decade, living in exile between Beirut and Damascus.
These days some revile him as a conspiracy theorist while others call him courageous. Regardless, his columns fuel heated debate among Jordanian intellectuals.
Over the years he spent in Damascus, Mr. Mahadin built strong ties with the Syrian opposition. He says the revolt in Syria was initially a spontaneous uprising of the street but was later hijacked by international powers in order to gain dominance in the region.
A group of 230 influential figures have signed an open letter in the press demanding that Jordan stand with Syria in the face of a global conspiracy.