Free Syrian Army Is All that Stands between Civilians and Tanks

(Telegraph-UK) Richard Spencer - The last straw for Capt. Abu Mahmoud came when 13 of his fellow officers were lined up and shot by a Syrian firing squad. They had been identified as potential deserters and were executed just in case, he said. He is now with the Free Syrian Army on the front line of the battle for Homs, a helpless spectator as the Syrian tanks and artillery drop round after round of shell fire onto the defenseless citizens of the Homs neighborhoods Bab al-Amr and Khalidiya. Capt. Abu Mahmoud is now marshalling defenses of the liberated area between Homs and the Lebanese border. The Free Syrian Army managed to turn it into a regime-free area last week. After months of demonstrations, arrests and shootings, gradually a group of respected citizens in the area took the shape of an informal civilian council led by Dr. Abbas, a dentist. Dr. Abbas reckons that this pocket of land contains 110-120,000 people. He insists that the uprising is not sectarian: "We just want democracy, we don't care whether people are Sunni, or Alawite or Shia, or Christian." He also adds that the Shia villages in the area are a problem because of their links with Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is backed by the Assads. "We have had 40 years of it," Dr. Abbas said. "Forty years of security running our lives." Abu Mahmoud admits that they are short of weapons - in reality, they have only a few light arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Dr. Abbas snorts imperiously when asked if he is afraid. "We are not doing it for ourselves. We are doing it for our sons, so they can have a future," he said. "We will never let him [Assad] rule us again like he did before."

2012-02-14 00:00:00

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