For most Syrians the Arab Spring is proving tragically late with
the massacre of more than 100 people, many of them children on
Friday May 25th. in the villages that constitute Houla, near Homs.
It seems that the present cease fire is beneficial to everyone
except the Syrian opposition and the innocent civilians who are
paying with their lives. Regional powers who have agendas, western
powers who fear losing domestic popularity and of course the Assad
regime. The regime has powerful military forces, which are being
used to drive armed rebels out of important centers of revolt. They
started in the Damascus suburbs, moved on to Homs, then
We traveled into Syria from Turkey with the opposition network using smuggling routes and spent a short period of time in Idlib Province. And the network is everywhere. It has cells in Turkish refugee camps, smugglers on the border, guides in the mountains; safe houses in every village and town inside northern Syria. Children act as look-outs and courier messages ; medics operate secret clinics; scouts use motorbikes and horses and, of course, there are the rebel fighters among the hills, farms and olive orchards.
The network is the arterial core of the Syrian revolution and the main target for Assad in his efforts to crush dissent. No wonder then, that not a single member of the dozens of cell members we encountered as we were passed from village to village deeper into Syria ever used their real name.
The networks zones of support are not so clearly defined, with large Shia villages in clear view of roads we traveled, as we very nearly discovered to our cost.
In one terrifying moment on our first day in Syria, driving through a mixed Sunni-Allawite town, we drove straight into a crossroads where there was a Syrian army tank and checkpoint. Neither slowing down or accelerating our driver turned to the right beside the tank and we escaped unmolested.
"It is the afternoon," said our guide as we struggled to regain our breath, "so the soldiers were probably asleep."
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