The Life of al-Khal: First Leader of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Graphic dedicated to al-Khal’s ‘martyrdom’.

The figure of al-Khal (a nickname meaning ‘The Uncle’)- also known by his real name Muhammad al-Baridi (Abu Ali al-Baridi)- presents one of the more interesting stories behind leaders of the various Syrian rebel groups. As one of the founders and the leader of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) from its inception in around summer 2012 until his death in November 2015, al-Khal gained notoriety as his brigade moved from a Free Syrian Army [FSA] brand group that was even part of the Southern Front coalition in 2014 to an overtly pro-Islamic State [IS] orientation in the aftermath of clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra at the end of that year, as Syria’s al-Qa’ida affiliate had accused Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk of having secret links with IS.

I have already traced out the history of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk as a group in considerable detail, but what of the life of al-Khal himself? So far there is little biographical detail available on him. This post hopes to rectify that deficiency, drawing in part on testimony from Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk circles. At the same time, one must be aware of the need for source criticism when it comes to particular details, as will be seen later. For purposes of clarity, it will help to read the aforementioned historical account of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk as a group.

Muhammad al-Baridi was born in 1970 in the village of Jamlah in Hawdh/Wadi al-Yarmouk (the Yarmouk Basin/Yarmouk Valley), an area in the corner of southwest Deraa province bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. So close are Jamlah and nearby localities in the Yarmouk Basin to the border that they are visible in the distance from the Israeli-controlled side.

Looking out from the Golan Heights towards Hawdh al-Yarmouk beyond the border fence (photo my own, taken from farmland near the Israeli settlement of Haspin).

As al-Khal’s family name suggests, he was born into the Baridi family/clan that is local to the Yarmouk Valley. The name is of importance because the Baridis are prominent landowners in the area- they are also the main founders of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk. Indeed, this dynamic seems to be key as to explaining the group’s staying power and grip over Hawdh al-Yarmouk until now, despite the casualties inflicted on account of the war with Jabhat al-Nusra and the southern Jaysh al-Fatah coalition it leads. Like so many other rebel groups, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade originated as a very local start-up.

In keeping with the status of the Baridis, al-Khal’s father was a renowned wealthy landowner in the area working in the realm of agriculture, and his son followed in his father’s footsteps from the beginning of his working life. He then moved into selling produce in the Deraa markets while not abandoning agricultural work. Likely on account of the family wealth, al-Khal had access to a relatively good education, and was even able to study Arabic language for a time in Damascus University, though he does not appear to have graduated with a degree.

Of particular interest is whether al-Khal had already begun delving into Islamist and jihadi thought prior to the outbreak of the Syrian revolution. Here, one should perhaps exercise some caution as there may be polemical interests in projecting the adoption of radical ideology onto an earlier stage of al-Khal’s life, despite the fact that his brigade was clearly aligned with FSA-brand forces in the south for two years or so and did not begin to implement substantial Islamic-style governance on the ground in the form of a ‘reform’ (islah) program imitating aspects of IS administration until the turn of the New Year in 2015. From Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk circles, a recurring talking point now is that the brigade’s orientation was ‘Islamic’ from the outset, and linked to this narrative is a claim that al-Khal had always espoused an Islamist/Salafi manhaj.

All accounts agree that al-Khal was eventually imprisoned by the regime and released. The timeline of imprisonment and nature of the offences are a matter of some dispute. An opposition activist and critic of al-Khal quoted by The National claims that he was imprisoned on account of thefts of antiquities from archaeological sites, while a rebel commander cited by the same paper says it was on account of extremist tendencies. A person from Hawdh al-Yarmouk who called himself Asad al-Baridi told me that he had been imprisoned by the regime twice before the revolution- each time for less than a year. The exact time of his release and the reasons for imprisonment were not specified by this source, though he did claim that al-Khal had desired the implementation of Islamic law before the revolution. Another Baridi who is in Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk and was close to al-Khal told me that al-Khal was imprisoned because “he was interested in extremist thought” and had been released after the beginning of the revolution as part of the “second amnesty” issued by the regime for a number of political prisoners over some months in 2011. Many of those released detainees were Islamists and jihadis held in the notorious Sednaya prison, who went on to found prominent rebel groups like Ahrar al-Sham (Hassan Aboud) and Jaysh al-Islam (Zahran Alloush). On this reading it seems likely that al-Khal was among that contingent of Islamists released from Sednaya.

In any case, there is no evidence that al-Khal was a jihadi veteran of prior conflicts, unlike many Syrian Islamists and jihadis who most recently distinguished themselves as combatants in the insurgency against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. According to the Baridi who was close to al-Khal, “He wanted to go to Iraq but could not because the Syrian mukhabarat caught up with him.” If so, that would fall under the double game the regime played with Islamists and the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq via Syria, whereby active facilitation existed but also crackdowns took place from time to time- for example, as Charles Lister notes, while 2005 saw a decrease in the foreign fighter flow to Iraq, 2006-7 saw a re-expansion of that flow (The Syrian Jihad- p. 39).

Contrasting with al-Khal’s lack of prior military experience is the figure of Abu Obeida Qahtan, who is the current amir of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk. According to the Baridi who was close to al-Khal, he was also one of the founders of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk. A Palestinian Syrian from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Abu Obeida Qahtan most notably fought in the Afghan jihad alongside Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam against the Soviet invasion. He may also have had a role in the subsequent jihads in Chechnya and Iraq. I have not found corroboration of a notion that Abu Obeida Qahtan was in Jama’at Bayt al-Maqdis al-Islamiya, a jihadi group in the south suspected of links to IS partly on account of its flag resembling that of IS. Though this group is often thought to be Palestinian because of the ‘Bayt al-Maqdis’ (referring to Jerusalem) in its name, it primarily consists of locals from Deraa and Quneitra with some muhajireen from Jordan and not Palestinians, according to a member of the group I spoke with. This member also denied that there is allegiance to IS.

Abu Obeida Qahtan (left) with al-Khal (right). The image first appears to have emerged in 2014. The figure on the left has been misidentified as Abu Muhammad al-Masalama, about whom more below.

Abu Obeida Qahtan’s presence and status in the brigade are rather exceptional in nature, because the group has drawn its manpower almost entirely from the wider Hawran area in southern Syria. While the majority of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk fighters come from the Yarmouk Valley, the group has also absorbed remnants of the Quneitra province jihadi coalition Jaysh al-Jihad, which was accused by rebels of having links with IS and consequently dismantled by mid-2015, even as Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk expressed solidarity with Jaysh al-Jihad.

As for foreign fighters who mostly attempted to come in via Jordan, al-Khal “would reject the muhajireen and send them to the north”- as per the testimony of the Baridi who was close to al-Khal. The only case of an actual foreigner in Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk appears to be an Israeli Arab who paraglided into Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk territory in October 2015, less than a month prior to al-Khal’s death. According to the same Baridi source, there was prior agreement from al-Khal for this Israeli Arab to join the group, and he remains alive and within its ranks today.

It should be noted in this context that another jihadi group in Deraa province- Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya (“The Islamic Muthanna Movement”), which recently clashed with a number of Southern Front groups that accused it of running secret prisons to detain rivals, has a similar policy of rejecting muhajireen. The group, founded as Katibat al-Muthanna bin Haritha Qahir al-Faras by a former Sednaya detainee in 2012 (Abu Ayyub al-Masalama, who was killed in March 2013), has this policy in order to build popular support in Deraa, according to a member I spoke with. As can be seen, a ‘Syrian-only’ membership policy does not necessarily tell against radical tendencies. Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya has rejected participation in the war on Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk, despite some local clashes back in mid-summer 2014.

How does one piece together al-Khal’s life and the evolution of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk over time? If al-Khal was indeed a radical all along and if Abu Obeida Qahtan was among the founders of the group, it suggests that the FSA-branding, including the co-signing with dozens of southern groups of an affirmation for a civil democratic state in mid-2014, was in fact an exercise in sweet-talk and deception practised over a considerable period of time, likely in order to maintain foreign support via the Military Operations Command (MOC) room in Amman that is jointly backed by Western and Gulf states as well as Jordan, responsible for oversight of support for southern factions deemed acceptably ‘moderate’.

By 2013, it would appear that there were already suspicions on the part of Jordanian intelligence about al-Khal, who had apparently received treatment in Jordan for wounds, but MOC support was not halted.  If The National account is right in terms of the timeline of MOC support for Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk, then the first actual suspension of MOC support amid concern about the group’s direction and conduct in mid-2014 was soon followed by the first signs of a shift in the outward display of orientation, most notably as a new, more Islamic-looking emblem was adopted. Here, it should be added that The National has things slightly wrong: the new emblem adopted at that time (summer 2014) did not use an IS flag but a more generic white/black flag associated with jihad (see my history of the group).

While The National reports allegations of influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and a Brotherhood-linked Syrian cleric called Sheikh Muhammad Sorour Zain al-Abidain that increased over time, it should be noted that this narrative, which implies an adoption by al-Khal of more radical ideas over the course of the revolution rather than adhering to Islamist ideology from the outset, is not corroborated by Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk sources. It is possible that the Muslim Brotherhood-influence narrative derives from long-standing concerns Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular have had about the Muslim Brotherhood, although the former’s stance has softened slightly since the beginning of King Salman’s reign in January 2015.

One can perhaps point to another jihadi figure- Sheikh Ahmad Kasab al-Masalama (Abu Muhammad al-Masalama)- as having a role in the shift in public display of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk’s orientation. From Harasta in the Damascus area, Masalama was reportedly part of the ‘Fighting Vanguard‘ before going to join the Afghan jihad, eventually returning to Syria some time in 2012 to play a role in the insurgency in the south. He was apparently appointed a Shari’i judge in Jabhat al-Nusra but by some point in 2014 had left the group and had some involvement as a Shari’i official or advisor in Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk, reputedly being a close friend of al-Khal. Step News Agency even describes them as associates in the same jihadi trend before the revolution. Masalama was assassinated in November 2014.

Purported photo of Abu Muhammad al-Masalama.

Since the clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra in December 2014, the pro-IS orientation of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk has been openly on display and the Yarmouk Valley has been under a state of siege as part of the war between Jabhat al-Nusra/southern Jaysh al-Fatah and Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk, which has cost both sides heavily and has in fact played a significant role in the diminishing of Jabhat al-Nusra’s power in the south. For Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk, the biggest loss has been the assassination of al-Khal and his deputy Abu Abdullah al-Ja’ouni, also a native of the Yarmouk Valley, in an operation in Jamlah in November 2015.

While Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk’s administration and media output have been imitating IS in many recognisable respects, the group continues to deny allegiance and/or having links with IS and does not quite take the same approach of speedy and forceful implementation of Shari’a. In a denial of links posted on 31 December 2015, Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk even referred to IS as “jama’at al-dawla al-islamiya” (“Islamic State group”)- a designation also used by IS’ jihadi rivals like Jabhat al-Nusra and regarded by IS as an insult for not according legitimacy to its statehood claim.

Ideologically, therefore, the position is quite incoherent, for IS demands allegiance and subsuming all group identities under its state framework- mere words of support are not enough. Contrast the case of Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk with Jama’at Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (now IS’ Sinai Province). When the latter denied a prematurely released statement pledging allegiance to IS, it did not attempt to deny IS the status of statehood on its official media channels.

In addition, it remains the case as I reported back in October 2015 that the niqab is not compulsory in Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk territory. This contrasts with IS territory where the niqab is imposed almost immediately after the conquest of any new territory. Back when IS was just ISIS, the niqab imposition in Raqqa came within days of ISIS’ consolidation of control of the city in mid to late January 2014.

It is possible that IS is playing an elaborate long game, in that denial of links are encouraged because it is not strategically useful to declare a Wilayat Deraa for now. Indeed, considering the proximity of the territory to Israel-controlled territory, it may be the case that there is concern that an official IS announcement will lead to airstrikes of some sort on Hawdh al-Yarmouk, which is not currently subjected to any bombing raids, whether from the regime, Russia or the coalition against IS.

In total, al-Khal sired six daughters and two sons. Of the two sons, he did not see one of them as his spouse gave birth to this son two months after his death.

Comments (52)


ALAN said:

Turkey has been arming the terrorists in Syria and granting its territory as their logistic base, while it has been profiting from a lucrative business trading the stolen oil both in Syria and Iraq. Turkey now has crossed the line by violating blatantly the UN resolutions against terrorism and thereby turning into a rogue state which has to be banished from the world organizations and subjected to sanctions. By violating the Syrian sovereignty and supporting openly Daesh, the different coalitions against terrorism and the Syrians should respond.

Damascus confirms its army targeted by Turkish shelling, complains to UN
US, France urge Turkey to stop shelling Kurds in northern Syria
‘Turkey wants to stop Kurds liberating northern Syria from ISIS’

February 14th, 2016, 2:41 pm


Majedkhaldoun said:

Dividing Syria is going to create four states, Kurdish, Alawi,rebels, ISIS
These mini states are going to fight each other, so this is not a solution , Syria is already divided , yet they are still fighting , also such partition means that ISIS may survive , it is a mistake, ISIS will not comply with international law, it is a criminal entity, it will keep threatening other countries.

Turkey attack on Kurdish forces west of Euphrates is a test , it is intended to watch Obama response, this could precede more bold actions.

The formation of an alliance headed by KSA , ISlamic army , is not what USA may live with,it may grow , and pose a risk

February 14th, 2016, 10:35 pm


Ghufran said:

Syria can not and will not be divided along sectarian lines. There are millions of sunni who do not want to be under the rule of islamists. Alawites who talk about division are doing so as a reaction to seeing their own existence becoming under threat by people and countries that use Sunnism as a cover to redraw the political map of Syria and fight iran’s influence. The coastal areas in Syria which is called the regime stronghold has over 1.5 million sunnis who despite 5 years of war have not experienced sectarian violence, indeed many rebels sent their women and children to latakia and Tartous where they were given shelter and food while the men fight the Kuffar (alawites) less than 100 miles away !!
Syria will come back but the new demographic changes can take a decade or two to be reversed even is such a reversal is allowed and the return of refugees is financed by the GCC and others. As of today, kurds and non sunni Arabs in Syria are 35-40% of the population and the percentage jumps to over 50% if areas under isis and Nusra remain occupied by the two terrorist groups.
This war should not have started. The crowning of Assad in 2000 was a grave mistake and his departure is almost certain when the war is over and the big players divide the cake. Syria will be a test tube for regional and international game of influence for a number of years, that is bad but continuing the war is far worse.

February 15th, 2016, 1:44 am


mjabali said:

Turkey is not going to be able to beat the Kurds on the long run especially if the US and the West support the Kurds.

Both want a part of Syria for their own interests for sure.

The Turks need the Saudi support because the Turkish Army fights a real war in the Eastern parts of “Turkey,” they also want a crazy partner to go into this quagmire. The Saudis are ready.

By the way, the Turks and the Kurds are fighting for other people’s land, if you ask me.

Saudi Arabia and the Sunni armies they are amassing are a waste of money. They should have saved these expenses because as reports indicate they are losing their fortune by the day.

Saudi Arabia’s current ruler/s is the biggest danger to this world. The Turks, who let 40 thousand Jihadis go to Syria and Iraq are second. Qatar is third as you know although they are trying to hide their dirty role. UAE is lagging in the forth spot on the most dangerous regimes to world peace.

You put few dollars in the hands of these lunatics and this world is about to go up in flames…..go get the oil away from them, as Trump said recently….imagine if D. Trump is telling the right solution for these dangerous regimes….

February 15th, 2016, 5:51 am


Observer said:

You can break an egg to make an omelet but you cannot put the egg back after you break it. The place is broken. The hatred is generationally deep. The perceived depravity ( whether it is real or not ) of the various sects is now engrained. There is no way to put it back together and there is no way that any part is viable without massive outside support so it will make Somalia look much better. I call it Somaria Alassad. I am sorry guys and girls the horse has left the barn a long time ago,

February 15th, 2016, 12:44 pm


Majedkhaldoun said:

It is quite probable that Syria is partitioned in the future , it can be divided but what I am saying this is not going to end the fight , many problems will ensue , a much better outcome is free Syria , and true democracy , where all Syrians regain dignity , Assad must go and the Alaway domination must end, along with freedom and democracy we must have Justice , get rid of corruption that has become rampant under this regime , also we must fight poverty and encourage education , under Assad regime we are not free , there is no democracy , there is corruption, no justice ,

February 15th, 2016, 3:35 pm


ALAN said:

I advise to monitor the multisectarian Kurds closely. One could trust the love of life, when they are sacrificing for it. They will do duty instead of me and you!

February 15th, 2016, 3:45 pm


ALAN said:

Turkey ‘won’t let’ Azaz, Syria, fall to Kurdish militia, shells YPG targets for 3rd day

February 15th, 2016, 4:55 pm


Mjabali said:

If the egg is broken there is another egg. The solution is in the hands of the Syrians. When some Syrians, pro and anti, sell themselves to foreign powers, the future is bleak.

There should emerge the smart Syrians who are willing to work together to save their country and the world, where they should work independently, with some international supervision, to reach a quick end to this blood bath.

As we all see: it is an international war on the land of Syria where the only loser are Syrians, anti or pro…كلو بالهوا سوا

February 15th, 2016, 6:33 pm


Tara said:

Israelis killing a Palestinian woman. Animals!

February 15th, 2016, 8:18 pm


Hopeful said:

# Mjabali

20% of Syrians – perhaps 4-5M people, hate each other so much that they are willing to keep fighting each other till revenge is achieved, till their own God wins, till their perceived justice is accomplished, or till their ideology dominates. They are not NOT selling themselves to foreign powers, but they allow themselves to leverage foreign powers to help them against their domestic enemies.

The remaining 80% – most of them dislike the Assad regime as much as they dislike ISIS and jabhat Alnusrah are in a wait and see mode.

Till the 20% – full of hatred and violence, and flooded with arms and cash, decides it is time to stop, or till a larger foreign power forces them to do so, the cycle will continue.

After Hitler, Assad is the worst dictator to have ever lived in modern history.

February 15th, 2016, 11:30 pm


mjabali said:


your percentages do not add up correctly. ISIS and al-Nusra have fans and al-Assad has fans too. Those who really hate each other are within these two well marked sections.

Now, there is a percentage of Syrians still do not hate each other that much and still see a way to build a democratic modern future together.

Those are the ones who should lead the way out of this bloody war, if you are going to let those who hate each other dictate the dialogue: there is no solution.

You have to find a way to promote those who are smart, because as far as we could see the other parties destroyed the hell out of Syria, plus brought us crazy maniacs to fight in Syria. It is clear mr. Hopeful no games no gimmicks….

February 15th, 2016, 11:47 pm


Ghufran said:

Here is a good one:
“Syrians risked it all in a deadly game of poker. Assad had the better hand”
Mowaffaq Safadi
I think Assad survived because he has better friends.

February 16th, 2016, 12:40 am


Poul said:

With all the focus on Aleppo the Syrian army is close to cutting of IS from Turkey to the south-east of Aleppo..

If the SAA succeeds IS will have to sail across Lake Assad to get supplies from Turkey.

February 16th, 2016, 1:45 am


Hopeful said:

#13 Mjabali

I hope you are right that the percentage is smaller, but I suspect you are too optimistic. Show me ONE Assad/regime supporter who is willing to say that “Assad must give up power to resolve the conflict” and I will agree with you that my percentages are off. Show me one rebel fighting on the ground who agrees to let “Assad” off the hook for the crimes he committed and I will agree with you that my percentages are off. Unfortunately I keep hearing from regime side that it is “Assad or burn the country”. And I keep hearing “Assad to the death chamber” from the other side. It is not only about those who are “fighting”, but also those who are encouraging them to fight to the end. Add them up, and you will get to 20% – easily.

The solution is obvious by now. Assad has to agree to pack and leave. It is sickening to see people like Duraid Lahham glorifies someone who is a symbol of killing and murder to so many Syrians. He is among the 20% and there are many like him.

February 16th, 2016, 6:34 am


Observer said:

Moaz Al Khatib proposed a reconciliation and an end to violence. He is in the minority.

The regime fell two years ago and Iran came to the rescue at the last minute and when even that did not work Souleimani went to Russia to ask for help. Now there is a race to prop up the regime for a ceasefire to its advantage. The problem is that the regime thinks in an all or none thinking: the regime knows that giving up one inch will lead to its eventual collapse and the end of this rule.

The other side has also gone for a maximalist position whereby it is difficult to compromise
and without a clear vision of what comes next making difficult for dissenters in the regime side to come out and join the rebellion.

So all of your arguments that may be appropriate for a distant future do admit that in the short term there is no solution but to divide the country. I know that it may lead to a future conflict that may be more bloody or to a reconciliation along very different lines and a dismantling of the regime and the opposition.

As for another egg; where is the chicken that is going to come up with it? I know it is supposed to be the Syrian people but in reality the Syrian people are in shreds and divided and shell shocked.

The regime is talking the same talk in 2011 now and there is every indication that Russia wants to keep the regime in place as is and all the talk of transition is just talk for if there is no opposition on the ground there is no need to have a transition.

These are illusions that you have and the age old hatred and suspicion and what have you are the only realities today.

February 16th, 2016, 7:37 am


Ghufran said:

سفير بريطانيا السابق في دمشق: اصرارنا على اسقاط النظام كان خطأ … ساندنا المعارضة إعلامياً وعسكريا وسياسياً … اعطيناهم أمل مبالغ به … هذا خطأ. الأسد والنظام الخيار الوحيد إذا اردنا سورية أمنة وعلمانية وتحفظ حقوق المرأة
Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria: our intransigence and commitment to regime change was a mistake … We gave the opposition false hope … Gave them propaganda support … support for their rebels …assad and his regime are the only option if we want syria to be secure, secular and pro women rights.
I do not agree with the statement because it suggests that Assad regime is the only option going forward but I need to remind people here that much of what happened in 2015 was predicted by a lot of people in 2011, we said that syria will be destroyed, a lot of people will get killed, rebels friends are not reliable or interested in freedom and democracy, etc.
Too little too late, the purpose was never a better government, Syria’s ” friends” only wanted to weaken or eliminate Iran’s advances in the region and help their allies and puppets. Each of the foreign players has an agenda, none of the players cared about Syrians.

February 16th, 2016, 10:22 am


ghufran said:

SOHR adds Turkey to the list of those who are killing the Syrian people
إيران وأردوغان شريكان في قتل أبناء الشعب السوري
It always amazes me how many educated people could not see the evil nature of Turkey’s Islamist government and the hatred and disrespect ottomans held for centuries against secular Arabs who refused to let Turks occupy their countries and control their lives.

February 16th, 2016, 12:10 pm


omen said:

Evil is ignoring Assad starving infants and old men to death.

February 16th, 2016, 2:35 pm


ALAN said:

FSA Asks Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar to Launch Military Operations in Syria
The FSA in a statement has officially called on Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to come to its rescue, the Arabic-language al-Riyadh newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The statement has been released in several Arab media.

On the other hand could ask the Chinese, Cuban and Venezuelan ally to help Syrians to fight the Saudi, the Turkish and Qatari aggressors. Damn.

February 16th, 2016, 4:22 pm


mjabali said:


Your solution for the Syrian Crisis is hard to implement. al-Assad is not going to pack and leave as you and many others have been ordering him to.

It is not working for many reasons. I think it is too late to explain now what are those reasons, why, how, when…. The country is in a mess.

So you have to come up with smart ways to solve the issue. This is all of what I am saying.

Results should matter more than proving points now.

As for Duraid Lahham and his love of Bashar al-Assad, I see that as his personal choice and I do not see any reason for you to bring him to this discussion.

There are more grey people that pro or anti…

February 16th, 2016, 4:24 pm


mjabali said:


There is hatred, and there are historical grievances. There are many issues Syrians have with each other. This civil war did something good in my opinion: forced all of the Syrians, one way or another, to know something about the other Syrians they did not know before, or were told otherwise.

Now, things are escalating into higher gears with many killers from different nations entering again to kill Syrians and each other on Syrian Land, eventually spreading this madness to many parts of the world.

Syria now is like a germ factory.

Make sure to use your brain to get out of this mess…

February 16th, 2016, 4:31 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Tara #11,

You forgot to mention that this woman stabbed Jews before she got shot. What a hypocrite you are.

February 16th, 2016, 5:13 pm


Passerby said:

Ok, the truce is doomed, we all know that. (It would be paradise for Assad to be able to continue the war against Nusra and Saddam Regime/Zarqawi/Al-Qaeda in Iraq/ISIS/IS as the other “rebels” stood by and watched. Ain’t gonna happen.)

So, Turkey’s allies, cut off from re-supply, will continue to be destroyed at an increasing pace, there will be plenty of horror story propaganda coming out of besieged Aleppo, and the Kurds, supported by Russia and the West, will grow much stronger.

And of course, the three million refugees that ain’t going back unless Erdogan begs.

And a military superpower, with a strong leader with a long memory, in a blood feud, always looking for a chance to strike.

As the economy tanks.

Erdogan doesn’t care about Turkey, he only cares about himself, and he’s a cornered rat. When it dawns on the Turkish people how badly he’s screwed this up, the damage to Turkey, he’s gone. He can’t maintain the status-quo, he has to do something to change things, and the only card he has left is the Turkish military.

Someone needs to tell the Toad, I assume they have, if he picks a war with Russia, he is on his own.

February 16th, 2016, 6:39 pm


Tara said:


That is an utter lie. The woman was shot because of being suspected by an israeli soldier of نية الطعن (an intention to stab) not stabbing .

An israeli soldier can shoot any Palestinian if he suspect that the Palestinians has an INTENTION TO STAB!!!!! Really ?

February 16th, 2016, 7:07 pm


Ghufran said:

Kurds want to maximize their gains before their future becomes an item on the negotiating table.
I have no doubt that most players including the regime in Syria are willing to sell the kurds for the right price. The U.S. will not totally antagonize Turkey to please the kurds but they will try to improve their future political standing. An independent Kurdish state seems a fair and legitimate demand but that is a tall order given the nature of the Turkish mafia today.

February 16th, 2016, 8:19 pm


elian said:

Syria won’t be as once was for decades if ever. The geopolitical forces on the ground created an identical situation similar to Iraq.
Syrians tried to avoid the bloody war but it was forced on them.
it would be impossible to seize the proxy wars in Syria in the coming decade.
Kurds wants part of Syrian which was in the past owned by many Christian ethnic Assyrian, ashore Chaldean and other Christian minorities. Christians are leaving Syria in scores many are forced out of their lands which they inhibited for centuries.
that’s what Islam is doing in the middle east is forcing others to leave.
the naïve west is allowing the transformation of Europe into an Islamic state through soft jihad not need for fighting, just bring Muslims and with time Europe will lose its identity.
it probably lost it already.
west doesn’t understand the Islam can’t coexist with others.
take example Hindu and Muslims this conflict has nothing to do with Israel or the middle east but Muslims can’t accept Hindu therefore, there is a significant hatred between the two groups in India.
even the Muslim Indians outside India hate Hindu and anyone not Muslim it is inherited in the blood of Islam hatred to others.
no need for more explanation.

February 16th, 2016, 9:29 pm


Hopeful said:

#22 Mjabali

I think you proved my point by stating that Assad needs to stay and Lahham is free to express his love for him. Both you and Mr. Lahham are among the 20%, causing this war to continue.

The 80% understands that both sides of the 20% are the reason that Syria is destroyed. They understand that Syria’s dictatorship must end. They understand that Isalmist terrorists must be kicked out. They understand that Turkey, Russia and Iran are all occupiers. They understand that Assad, Baghdadi and Golani are all the same: war lords fighting for their own self interest. They understand that glorifying one of them means complete disregard to millions of Syrians who lost loved ones because of him.

Yes there are many shades of gray, but neither you nor Mr. Lahham are among them. Gray people have a simple proposition: “no to Assad and his foreign backers, and no to terrorists and their foreign backers”

February 16th, 2016, 10:33 pm


Ghufran said:

For the first time since 2013 Bani Zayd district in Aleppo proper is under attack from Syrian army and its allies including a Palestinian militia. Most of the indiscriminate mortar shells fired by rebels into Aleppo come from Bani Zayd. Scores of civilians were killed by those shells in the last three years.

February 16th, 2016, 11:18 pm


Observer said:

Exactly my point Mjabali why keep it together when the evidence points clearly that currently these people cannot live together.

Europeans fought each other for 300 or more years and now they live in peace. Instead of fighting for another 30 years let us separate peacefully.

February 17th, 2016, 7:36 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

You are a hypocrite Tara.

As a Sunni person who is quite updated, you have to know that Jihadi leaders on Jihadi channels urge young Arabs in Israel and beyond to stab Jews. This shooting is not out of the blue and with no context.

Your grievances you should address to those who encourage this suicidal, 7th-century mentality, not to those who have no choice, but to respond.

And yes, If a person is holding a knife, intending to stab me, I shoot them.

February 17th, 2016, 8:46 am


Hopeful said:

#22 Mjabali

I think you proved my point by stating that Assad needs to stay and Lahham is free to express his love for him. Both you and Mr. Lahham are among the 20%, causing this war to continue.

The 80% understands that both sides of the 20% are the reason that Syria is destroyed. They understand that Syria’s dictatorship must end. They understand that Isalmist terrorists must be kicked out. They understand that Turkey, Russia and Iran are all occupiers. They understand that Assad, Baghdadi and Golani are all the same: war lords fighting for their own self interest. They understand that glorifying one of them means complete disregard to millions of Syrians who lost loved ones because of him.

Yes there are many shades of gray, but neither you nor Mr. Lahham are among them. Gray people have a simple proposition: “no to Assad and his foreign backers, and no to terrorists and their foreign backers”

February 17th, 2016, 11:51 am


ALAN said:

The Kurds are a nation, not a minority.
Just your understanding is enough.

February 17th, 2016, 2:25 pm


ALAN said:

The second act of the conflict in Syria is drawing to a close. The third and final act is about to begin.

February 17th, 2016, 4:05 pm


Ghufran said:

Oppression is the disease and freedom is the cure. Let people decide how and where they want to live and give them the power to vote. Political Islam and religion in general is a form of oppression and can not cure the ills caused by dictatorships. Notice how Ksa is focused on removing a leader or a government but is never interested in freedom of choice, you cannot make chicken soup out of chicken poop. Saudis tolerated and even supported dictatorship in Syria and had no problem with an alawite being president since 1970 and their Bandar is on record confessing that Al-Saud had no problem with the Assads and the alawites until 2011, they financed a war against Shia iran in 1979 and another war against Sunni Saddam in 1991. Bandar even hinted that ksa was willing to accept a non Assad alawite to be president, it is clear that the big boys used the little boys to keep this war going even if that means raising sectarian slogans and supporting religious fanatics.
Assad should have let people choose a successor to his dad in 2000 but he did not and he also kept the security system as is making oppression and corruption a legitimate partner to family rule which effectively molded a republic into a corrupt kingdom, that was bad enough but poverty and lack of jobs allowed dissent to grow and violence became acceptable to many disenfranchised people who had little hope for the future. The opposition blew a rare opportunity to unite Syrians when they took the cover of sunnism and accepted foreign support, that deprived the rebellion from its nationalistic engine and turned it into an armed thuggish movement.

February 17th, 2016, 6:32 pm


Ghufran said:

You will hear the name SDF a lot in the next few months. Aron Lund posted a piece on the subject at
“The Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, is a coalition of Kurdish, Sunni Arab and Syriac Christian fighters, but is completely dominated by its Kurdish element, which is a powerful and well organized militia known as the Popular Defense Units, YPG, with an all-female branch called the Women’s Defense Units, or YPJ. These organizations, in turn, are Syrian front groups for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK. The other militias involved in the Syrian Democratic Forces are either long-standing PKK allies or proxies, such as the armed wing of the Syriac Union Party, or more recent allies drawn from the Sunni Arab tribal landscape in this part of Syria and from the remains of small Sunni Arab rebel groups crushed by the so-called Islamic State”

February 17th, 2016, 8:19 pm


Passerby said:

“Saudi [Arabia] and Turkey are likely engaged in great theatre,” Joshua Landis, a prominent Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, said in an e-mail. “Both powers, which have ambitions to lead the Sunni world, must demonstrate to their people and beyond that they are defending the Sunni rebels and not standing idly by as they are defeated by Russia and its allies.”

“Their national interests in Syria do not justify a direct military incursion,” Prof. Landis added. “Otherwise, they would have done it years ago.”

Well, sure hope you are right, but Erdogan and Turkey’s interests don’t necessarily coincide. Never in Turkey’s interest, but maybe Erdogan will think it’s in his personal interest now. He’s facing a massive humiliating public failure. He will be seen as weak and stupid.

And with bombs going off in Turkey, shelling of the Kurd’s (and regime and Russians) who most certainly will fight back, some such as ISIS greatly profiting from any Turkey/Russia conflict if they can spark it, plenty of sparks to start a big War.

February 17th, 2016, 9:31 pm


Observer said:

The other side of the argument that Mjabali brings about correctly is that the Syrians are now “discovering each other” to paraphrase. This proves to me that this Syrian identity is skin thin only for people identify themselves in sectarian terms.
If we are sectarian and 70% of the population belong to one sect the squaring of the circle is how to make sure that the 30% are not marginalized. The solution of Lebanon is a non starter and a national democracy without sect is impossible today. So federate the political system and unify the judiciary and economic systems. Separate peacefully. The proof is that the regime has lost since 2013 and needed to this day massive support to keep its foothold

February 18th, 2016, 7:29 am


Ghufran said:

في مثل هذا اليوم من 5 سنين, صرخ السوريين “الشعب السوري ما بينذل”
و في مثل هذا اليوم من 4 سنين, صرخ السوريين, “يا الله مالنا غيرك يا الله”
و في مثل هذا اليوم من 3 سنين, صرخ السوريين, “أوباما خرّيها”
و في مثل هذا اليوم من سنتين, صرخ السوريين, “أمك و أختك يا عماد خميس”
و في مثل هذا اليوم سنة الماضية, صرخ السوريين, “بقديش البلم لليونان عالنفر؟”
اما اليوم, 17 شباط, عم يصرخ السوريين, “بقديش صار كيلو الكوسا؟”
سنة الجاية بإذن الله ما عاد في حيل للسوريين يصرخوا…
سنة الجاية حنخلي الكرة الارضيه كلها تصرخ: خلصوا ربنا من قصة السوريين…
#كلنا_بالهوا #سوا

February 18th, 2016, 10:34 am



All this failed revolution, mass detentions and tortures, armed gangs, bulleted demonstrators, bombed cities, besieged villages and towns, russian bombings, american bombing, kurdish militias, ISIS creation and brutalities,press and MSF killings, millions of refugees to bordering countries, hundreds of thousands of killed…. ruined populations, billions of dollars gone, one generation lost, cultural heritage gone why?


Simply because Assad mafia wants to stay in power.


Assad has fuxxxked the whole Syria and the whole syrian population.

February 18th, 2016, 12:20 pm


Ghufran said:

NATO sold rebels and islamists as expected. GCC sheikhs gave them money and weapons and continue to do so but sending GCC troops to Syria is a different story, even in Yemen GCC countries are hiring foreign missionaries to do the fight and limiting most of their own attacks to air raids. Turkish ruling mafia is itching to intervene in northern Syria but they are restrained by the reluctance of the Turkish army and the fear of a war with Russia. Syria today is a training field for NATO, Russia , Iran and the Syrian army. Western governments decided that the only unified army, the Syrian army, is the best choice among the bad options in Syria, that judgement was solidified by the threat of isis and the refugees flood that shocked Europe.
أمه فاشله من الألف للياء

February 18th, 2016, 12:25 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

To Tara,,7340,L-4768062,00.html

I’m more than sure that you will blame the so called “occupation”. This has nothing to do with it. It is about your sick Islamist mentality that keeps you hundreds of years behind the rest of humanity.

The Yazidis did not occupy Iraqi / Syrian lands, and the Christians did not occupy lands in Baghdad. Still their women are being sold in Islamic markets for sex slaves, and their lives, property and dignity, destroyed. This is Islam. Time you take responsibility instead of blaming everybody else but yourself.

In what society you see 14 y/o kids educated to murder? only among Muslims this is.

February 18th, 2016, 1:30 pm


mjabali said:


There is something called alternative ways to solve this problem. Whatever you say is your opinion and unfortunately, this type of argument got us nowhere to solve the Syrian problem.

Also: You dragging Duraid Lahham into this is dirty and of course counter productive. Counterproductive, like the sidetracking you are showing here, that is reflected in the inept way the Syrian Crisis have been dealt with.

The failure of your type of thinking is obvious….

Always barking at the wrong tree……

February 18th, 2016, 1:42 pm


mjabali said:


You missed the racial factor of the Syrian identity. You just mentioned the sectarian aspect.

Look at the Syrian Turks and look at the Kurds: each is pursuing a racial agenda…

Cutting Syria into pieces is going to happen. The Kurds are not looking back.

The Turks, if invaded like the old days with the help of the Saudis the warriors from the land of the Prophet, are going to create another enclave ….

The rest is up for who have more power to control……

February 18th, 2016, 1:50 pm


ALAN said:

the parasitic occupiers make their own “laws”, the majority of which, are designed, to make the lives of the subjugated as difficult, and unbearable, as possible. Only Jews are “allowed” to live “normal” lives..

February 18th, 2016, 4:05 pm


Ghufran said:


February 18th, 2016, 6:11 pm


Passerby said:

Your hero, Vladimir Putin is Jewish, Alan. If his grandfather had poisoned Stalin one day later all the Jewish doctors would have been killed.

February 18th, 2016, 6:15 pm


Ghufran said:

They will be Banu Saud in my page not Al Saud
لا يجوز مخاطبه حكام السعوديه بآل سعود، لأن هذا اللقب يطلق على آل الرسول وآل البيت وآل عمران وآل ياسر
والصحيح أن نقول بنو سعود نسبه للقبائل اليهوديه كبنو القينقاع وبنو خيبر وبنو قريظه وبنو صهيون…

February 18th, 2016, 10:26 pm


Tara said:


“In what society you see 14 y/o kids educated to murder? only among Muslims this is”

In Israeli society too. They are not different at all from bin laden culture except for belonging to Moses as opposed to Mohammed . The difference is that most Muslims do not identify with Islamic terrorists but most Israelis do identify with Israeli terrorists who hate Arabs. I can denounce bin laden in a split second. Can you denounce the Israeli culture of Arab hatred?!

Now be a man ( or a woman) and face the truth once!

February 18th, 2016, 10:57 pm


Hopeful said:

#43 Mjabali

I am not proposing solutions. I am stating common sense facts. Millions on Syrians consider Assad a criminal and a murderer. Do you dispute that? Do you believe there can be a long term solution when the president on a country is considered a criminal by a large segment of his population? Show me a creative/alternative solution which takes this into account and I am ready to discuss.

I did not “drag” Lahham in. I was reacting to your comment that 20% is too many. All regime supporters I know belong to this category. Not because they are anti-terrorists (we all are), not because they are anti-revolution (many non-regime supporters are too), but because they keep on glorifying the symbols and supporting the process that led us in this mess to start with. They are no different from the Nazis. Nazi history is full of “nationalist” intellectuals, actors, writers, etc., who fueled HItler’s ego and manipulated his populist support.

February 18th, 2016, 11:35 pm


Observer said:

Sure Mjablai and it is another factor as well with racial tensions.

Yes it will be destroyed and the country will be in pieces I wish it had happened peacefully that is all

February 19th, 2016, 7:31 am


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