Thursday, January 10, 2013

"We ask God to help the regime fight the FSA & terrorism - we are with the sovereignty of President Bashar al-Assad forever."

[Reuters] "... ALEPPO, Syria- At a crowded market stall in Syria, a middle-aged couple, well dressed, shuffle over to press a folded note, furtively, into the hand of a foreign reporter.It is the kind of silent cry for help against a reign of fear that has been familiar to journalists visiting Syria over the past two years. Only this is not the Damascus of President Bashar al-Assad but rebel-held Aleppo; the note laments misrule under the revolution and hopes Assad can defeat its "terrorism".
"We used to live in peace and security until this malicious revolution reached us and the Free Syrian Army started taking bread by force," the unidentified couple wrote. "We ask God to help the regime fight the Free Syrian Army and terrorism - we are with the sovereignty of President Bashar al-Assad forever."
.... their sentiments are far from rare in Aleppo, Syria's biggest city and once vibrant hub of trade and industry, whose diverse urban communities now face hardship and chaos at the hands of motley bands of fighters recruited from surrounding rural areas....  And all the while relations grow testier between the rebels and Aleppines, for whom many fighters harbor some disdain after the urbanites' failed to rise up on their own against Assad.
Rebel commanders interviewed in and around Aleppo in the past two weeks acknowledged problems within the FSA - an army in name only, made up of brigades competing for recognition and resources. But they laid much of the blame on "bad apples" and opportunists and said steps are being taken to put things right.
"There has been a lot of corruption in the Free Syrian Army's battalions - stealing, oppressing the people - because there are parasites that have entered the Free Syrian Army," said Abu Ahmed, an engineer who heads a 35-man unit of the Tawheed Brigade, reckoned to be the largest in Aleppo province.
Abu Ahmed, who comes from a small town on the Turkish border and like many in Syria would be identified only by the familiar form of his name, estimated that most people in Aleppo, a city of over two million, were lukewarm at best to a 21-month-old uprising that is dominated by the Sunni Muslim rural poor.
"They don't have a revolutionary mindset," he said, putting support for Assad at 70 percent among an urban population that includes many ethnic Kurds, Christians and members of Assad's Alawite minority. But he also acknowledged that looting and other abuses had cost the incoming rebels much initial goodwill.
"The Free Syrian Army has lost its popular support," said Abu Ahmed, who said the Tawheed Brigade was now diversifying from fighting to talking on civic roles .....
Tlas said he been told that only a few thousand bullets had reached rebel forces in Aleppo province in one month and sources of revenue were drying up. In desperation, some leaders have sought out wealthy Gulf Arabs to fund their revolt.
One Kuwaiti businessman met Tlas: "He came on a tour, we showed him the different fronts, immersed him in the atmosphere of a war zone and even let him fire a rifle," he said. "He left here really happy. I thought ... he would solve everything.
"And we never heard back from him. Maybe he got scared of the rifle. That was about a month and a half ago."
As the war grinds on, and despite efforts by some commanders to create a semblance of order, some Aleppines are growing impatient with the Free Syrian Army: "We don't care about the regime," said 48-year-old Abu Majid, who worked in one of Aleppo's many textile factories. "We need peace and security."
Sitting on a plastic chair in the middle of a busy market on Thirtieth Street, Abu Majid held the rebels responsible for desperate conditions in the city: "We've gone back to the Stone Age. ...."

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