Fatah al-Intifada is one of multiple Palestinian factions that has a presence inside Syria. During the Syrian civil war, Fatah al-Intifada has fought on the side of the Syrian government. I recently interviewed a Syria-based commander in Fatah al-Intifada to discuss the group's history and its current role inside Syria. Any parenthetical insertions are in square brackets.
Q: When was Fatah al-Intifada formed and what is the difference between it and Fatah led by Mahmoud Abbas? And in which regions in Syria is Fatah al-Intifada present?
A: The Fatah movement was launched on the night of 1 January 1965 with a fedayeen operation comprising the blowing up the Aylbon tunnel and the Fatah movement's operations have continued until this day, including the well-known battles: the Battle of Dignity, Ahrash Jerash, Black September, the Siege of Beirut.
In the Siege of Beirut, the leadership of the revolution represented at that time by Yaser Arafat decided to leave Beirut by sea with a French offer under the French flag. This matter is something that did not please the national revolutionary movement inside Fatah as the fighters were heading to Algeria, Tunisia and Yemen. So the leaders of the national movement inside Fatah decided to head to Latakia port as it was the nearest point to return to the battle and continue the conflict with the enemy. And after leaving Beirut, the leadership in all its central committee and revolutionary council came together, as the national leaders demanded that Arafat hold to account those who were negligent in the battles of the invasion of Lebanon until the Siege of Beirut. And they demanded the return of the fighters to the field, but it was hinted by the executive leadership that the time had come to proceed on the path of negotiating.
And the national movement represented in the leadership could only reject and warn the leadership from the consequence of what they were intending. Then the brother Colonel Abu Mousa returned to Damascus to announce a revolutionary intifada inside the Fatah Movement, describing it as a revolution inside a revolution, with the aim of correcting the course of the revolution to preserve the Palestinian rifle and the course of the armed struggle and remain steadfast on the principles for which Fatah had been launched.
So the revolutionary intifada inside Fatah was on 9 May 1983. We in the Fatah al-Intifada movement consider ourselves to be the Fatah that was launched in 1965, as it defined its aim as liberating Palestine- all of Palestine- and it defined the method of liberation: that is, the armed struggle that it chose as a strategic path for that, and it considered the Zionist entity to be a usurping entity and what was taken by force could only be recovered by force. And in distinction the name of al-Intifada was applied to us to distinguish us from those who have apostasised from the revolutionary path and chosen to negotiate with the entity after recognizing it and compromising on more than three quarters of Palestine and disregarding the sacrifices of the martyrs and torments of the prisoners.
As for our presence in Syria, the Fatah al-Intifada movement is present on all the lands of Syria, like Deraa, Damascus and its countryside, Latakia, Aleppo, Homs and Hama.
A: The aims of the Fatah al-Intifada movement are the liberation of Palestine- all of Palestine- by both armed struggle and armed resistance, and the establishment of the independent Palestine state with noble Jerusalem as its capital. As for the issue of uniting with the other factions; the Fatah movement like all the movements has its own ideology. So we may agree with the other factions on one thing and disagree with them on another.
Q: What has been the role of Fatah al-Intifada in the events in Syria? Has Fatah al-Intifada participated in battles as an auxiliary force for the Syrian Arab Army?
A: Fatah al-Intidada was among the first to recognize the truth of the conspiracy planned against Syria to destroy it and tear it apart with the aim of bringing about the collapse of the resistance axis stretching from Tehran and passing through Damascus and Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance.
So we have borne arms in defence of the people of Syria, our people and the Syrian state, and we have been a powerful aid and auxiliary for the Syrian army in many of the areas throughout Syria.
For we have had the honour of participating in the liberation of all the Damascus camps that the terrorists were able to seize as well as the honour of participating in the liberation of a number of localities of Ghouta like al-Mleha, Shab'a, Zabadin, Jisrin and others. In addition, a force for the Fatah movement has been formed that operates with Hezbollah and has been involved in most of the regions of Syria like Aleppo, Deir az-Zor, Deraa and Quneitra.
Q: How many martyrs does Fatah al-Intifada have during the events [in Syria]?
A: The number of martyrs of the Fatah movement during the events has reached 223 martyrs.
Q: Have the Islamic Resistance Hezbollah and the friends helped you in matters of financing, arming and training? What has been their role exactly?
A: Regarding financing, after the movement was deprived of its entitlements (the Liberation Organization [PLO]) and our martyrs deprived of the national treasury, the movement turned to the friends and Iran and Hezbollah have not fallen short in that.The support offered from them is limited financial support. And regarding training also, the support has been limited.
Q: All the Palestinian camps in Syria have been liberated now. What has the Syrian government promised you regarding reconstruction of the Yarmouk camp for instance? And how is the general situation in the Yarmouk camp especially as there was a lot of looting in the camp?
A: Yes, all the Palestinian camps have been liberated and the grace belongs to the blood of our martyrs and the martyrs of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies. And the situation in the Yarmouk Camp now is very good and the Syrian government has promised with the help of UNRWA to rebuild the camp in preparation for returning its people to it. Like all the regions, there have been acts of theft in it and as some would like to call it, looting operations.
Q: What is your stance on the Hamas movement in Gaza and the region?
A: The official position on Hamas: our position with Hamas differs according to the region. In Syria we fought its members in the Yarmouk Camp, and in Gaza there is more or less coordination with the al-Qassam Battalions only. And there is no political meeting between us in all of the regions.