Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

Daraa as a model for Assad's deceptive reconciliation

Local | 2020-07-06 12:40:00
Daraa as a model for Assad's deceptive reconciliation

(Zaman Al Wasl)- In the summer of 2018, Ahmad al-Hourani, 40, a former opposition fighter,  signed with his brother Salam (then 26), the so-called reconciliation agreement with the Syrian regime in southern Daraa province. 

Ahmed, who used a pseudonym in fear of regime reprisals, has joined the Russian-led Fifth Legion, while Salam, who defected from the regime's army in 2012, had to return to the military to resume his service, as stated in the Settlement. 

When Salam went to the police station to turn himself in and to resume his service in the army, he never came back home. His family received a number pertaining to his dead corpse, according to what his brother Ahmad reports.

Salam is one of many people whom the regime has deceived with the empty promises of compromises and reconciliations. Using these imaginary settlements, the regime succeeded in retaliating against soldiers who have deserted the army. Assad sets one trap after another and proves to the world his own treachery and mischievous ways.  

With the intervention and great support of the Russians in the summer of 2018, Daraa was again under the control of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Since then, Assad has arrested about 220 young men who signed settlement papers, of whom 32 died in the regime's prisons, according to AFP.

It is likely that the number of the detainees and those who were killed in detention is higher than the reported number. Especially since the regime’s documentation is biased and untrustworthy. 

Ahmed says, "He called me saying he was going to turn himself in. I tried to stop him but he insisted. He went and never came back. My brother signed the settlement document for 6 months, and then he went two months before the deadline, in late 2018, to a military police station in Damascus to return to its military service only to find out that it was all a masquerade." 

Since the day of his surrender, all news regarding Salam had been cut off. After a dire insistence from his family members to know about the fate of their son, they received a paper containing the number of his dead, his body and the date of his death in 2019. 

Ahmad refuses to believe the account of his brother’s death, especially that he has not received his body. In case his death was real, it must have been the result of torture. He adds: "We agreed to a settlement against our will to protect ourselves, but my brother did not survive." 

The Documentation of Martyrs office in Daraa counted the death of 14 former dissidents from the regime since the settlement of 2018, including those who surrendered and those who were arrested at checkpoints. The regime did not deliver any corpse belonging to these former soldiers, or even determine their place of burial. 

Damascus has failed in southern Syria as its notorious security services continue arrests campaigns and keep tracking former rebel fighters who laid down their weapons, seeking to start a new post-war life.

Feeling insecure, has pushed dozens of former rebels to carry weapons again, according to analysts.

Diana Samaan, the Syrian researcher in Amnesty International, says that the settlement agreements included promises among them to stop arbitrary arrests; but the government did not abide by all its provisions, whether in Homs, Daraa, or Damascus countryside, and continued to arbitrarily arrest people even after They get settlement cards. 

“People residing in government-controlled areas, especially where settlements have been signed and sealed, are still threatened by arbitrary arrest, torture and death in custody,” She adds. 

Activist of the Martyrs Documentation in Daraa office Omar Al-Hariri, notes that "the settlement does not include protection from criminal cases. For that matter, criminal files were deliberately invented for many former soldiers in order to arrest them, and random complaints were raised against them." 

He adds, "To this day, the regime has not yet launched extensive arrest campaigns against people in Daraa, but rather people are arrested at checkpoints or based on calls that provide information.”

Sarah Kayali, a researcher on Syrian affairs at Human Rights Watch, says that the continued arrest of those who signed the settlement and the liquidation of some of them in detention centers clearly reflects the reality of these agreements. These settlements are simply a deceptive front made in order to lure former soldiers into the trap of arrest and murder. 

The arrest of those who signed the settlement sends a very bad message to those who are thinking about returning to the regime's control areas, as signing the settlement is their only ticket in.

Three brothers, two who fought with an armed group and a third who had no role in any armed conflict whatsoever, were arrested 5 days after they signed the settlement in Daraa. They are still missing since 2018, a source in a human rights organization says.

In 2014, after going through a tight siege and fierce battles, the opposing fighter Omar (25 years old at the time) left the Old City of Homs on the basis of an agreement between the fighters and the security branches stipulating an investigation period and a 6-month deadline to return to the army. Instead, Omar was detained for several months with other fighters in a school, before being transferred to the notorious Saydnaya prison.

 His brother, preferring to remain anonymous, says, "For four years, we paid money to keep him alive in Sednaya. He was only allowed out if he joined the ranks of the regime." He finally adds, “Omar wishes to desert again. He feels restricted and forced to fight on the wrong side.”




Zaman Al Wasl
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