It has been five years since the insurgency in Syria took over almost all of Syria's northwestern province of Idlib. The insurgency in the area was led at the time by Jaysh al-Fatah, a coalition of groups spearheaded by al-Qa'ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the Salafi-Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham.
In retrospect, it is difficult to conceive how the insurgency's supporters and foreign backers could have thought that these Jaysh al-Fatah advances were positive developments. Leaving aside the strategic fallout, these advances entailed serious human rights violations and sectarian displacement, one example being the Alawite village of Ishtabraq, whose original population was driven out, killed and kidnapped. In my view it is important to highlight this issue as it is an enduring and legitimate grievance.
Within Syrian government-held areas, some are commemorating today the fifth anniversary of the 'Ishtabraq massacre'. Below is a post I have translated on the matter from Feda Ibrahim Fakhro, who worked in the Ishtabraq municipal office and is responsible for following the portfolio of Ishtabraq's kidnapped and missing people.
The fifth anniversary of the Ishtabraq massacre and their displacement, and likewise the forced displacement of the noble people of Jisr al-Shughur, because of the terrorists' seizing of the area. Corresponding to this is Saturday 25 April 2020.
General Solidarity Demonstration
In view of the exceptional situation as a result of the corona epidemic it has been decided to hold it for every individual showing solidarity in his home and house for the relatives of the victims, martyrs, and kidnapped, and in every noble Syrian house. And we will prepare a statement through contact via the means of contact for that.
In duty to the blood of the martyrs
And in solidarity with the kidnapped and missing
Support for the Syrian Arab Army to continue to cleanse Syria of terrorism.
Renewing loyalty and support for the leader, the symbol Bashar al-Assad.
Time: Saturday on 25 April 2020.
Time: 10 a.m.
Program of demonstration
1. Standing for one minute's silence in honour of the lives of the martyrs of the homeland.
2. Recital of the Fatiha and the verses of wise remembrance for the lives of the martyrs and praying to God for freedom for the kidnapped and missing and the returning to the abode after its liberation from the terrorists.
3. We will hand over a message in the name of the relatives of the kidnapped and martyrs to be received by the respected governor of Latakia, in order to track the portfolio of the remaining kidnapped and missing whose number reaches 17 people among kidnapped and missing and they are still in the detention centers of the terrorist gangs in Idlib.
4. Likewise a concluding statement about the demonstration directed to public opinion and the international, human rights and humanitarian parties to demand investigation procedure for that massacre and to criminalize those who committed that massacre and others that were perpetrated with all design and prior planning by the terrorist gangs, supported by the hostile Western states and some of the conspiring systems of the Arab states regrettably, and at the forefront of them the criminal Turkish regime of Erdogan.
5. And likewise we demand that the members of the Syrian People's Council issue a decision to declare as crimes of genocide the crimes against the village of Ishtabraq and Latakia countryside and other crimes that have afflicted multiple Syrian components at the hands of the Turkish regime, following the example of criminalizing the crimes against the Syrian Armenians.
For the record:
On the likes of this day on date 25 April 2015 there occurred the monstrous, barbarous attack by those gangs that led to the martyrdom of around 200 male and female martyrs from the people and inhabitants of the locality of Ishtabraq, and likewise hundreds of the people of the Jisr al-Shughur area who clung to their homeland and land and the innocent supporters of the Syrian state who were detained in the gardens and homes. Also 165 people were kidnapped during that attack as well, most of them women, children and elderly.
And likewise hundreds of civilians and military personnel who were seeking to escape death in resisting those gangs and defending the land and homeland were kidnapped.
Also 1500 people of the defenseless peoples of the locality were displaced and scattered from their homes and locality as it was targeted by the gunfire and mortars of death at the hands of the terrorist mercenaries who entered the Syrian lands through the Turkish borders and those who joined them from some of the terrorist cells present in the periphery of a town.
The concluding statement for the demonstration:
And a message directed:
. To demand the official and governmental parties of the Syrian government and likewise the international ones through the governor of Latakia, the Major General Khidr Ibrahim al-Salim, to transmit our voice to all of them.
We direct- in the name of the relatives of the martyrs and victims and kidnapped and missing and the noble peoples of the locality of Ishtabraq and Jisr al-Shughur who cling to the homeland and its soil- regards and deference to the intrepid Syrian Arab Army and we shake the hands of its heroes and we commend them in blessing for their steadfastness and efforts in destroying terrorism and cleansing the Syrian land from the filth of those armed terrorist gangs, so that we can return to the abode and homes that they have seized by force of arms and terrorizing.
We also direct regards to the leader, the symbol President Bashar al-Assad, who guarantees the constitution and defends the people and homeland, showing regards for his steadfastness in resisting the fierce attack and global war from the axis of evil and the Zionism and their mercenary gangs against our homeland.
Mercy and eternity to our noble martyrs.
Quick healing for the wounded and struck.
Freedom to the kidnapped and return of the missing.
And the sure victory to our army and our Syria against the aggressors.
Thanks to all who heed our call and support the cause of our people and support our legitimate rights and justified demands.
We ask for sharing and support as far and wide as possible and likewise we hope for the accompaniment of the private and governmental media parties to convey our voice to public opinion and to transmit the closing statement of the demonstration of solidarity.
We will not forgive.
We will not forget.
We will not pardon.
We demand justice.
Latakia: Syria (24 April 2020),
Member of the council of administration of the Syrian network for human rights headed by the lawyer Dr. Ahmad Khazim, and tracker of the portfolio of the kidnapped of the locality of Ishtabraq, Idlib.
The Comrade Feda Ibrahim Fakhro.