Some days ago I posted about the fifth anniversary commemoration of the massacres, mass kidnappings and displacement that occurred in the Alawite locality of Ishtabraq (also called Istabraq) in west Idlib countryside. The massacres, mass kidnappings and displacement occurred at the hands of the insurgents during their campaign that took over almost all of Idlib province over the course of spring and early summer 2015. Those insurgents were at the time led by Jaysh al-Fatah, a coalition that was spearheaded by the al-Qa'ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the Salafi-Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham.
As I noted in the previous post, it is worth questioning why foreign supporters of the insurgency thought that encouraging and supporting the Jaysh al-Fatah-led advances were somehow good ideas. The passage of time should not make us overlook the serious violations that occurred.
To talk more about Ishtabraq and the massacre, mass kidnappings and displacement, I interviewed Feda Ibrahim Fakhro, who helped organize the fifth anniversary commemoration of the Ishtabraq events. His deceased father had served as head of the Ishtabraq municipal council.
Q: Can you describe the locality of Ishtabraq for those who don't know it? Can you describe the events of the massacre and displacement in detail?
A: Istabraq, a piece of Paradise
Between Paradise and Firdous it lies,
And on the corner of our noble mountains it reclines,
And on the shawl of al-Ghab embroidered with the fruits of goodness and the treasures of beauty it dozes off.
And in the perfume of its fountains and springs it is washed by morning and evening,
So it gifts its nearest neighbor Jisr al-Shughur sweet and glistening fresh water.
As for beauty, I do not think that anyone in the world has a share of its name as it has.
Istabraq- that silk embroidered with gold, greenery and beauty- has only wished for its face to be towards the east, embracing the first strings of dawn with every rising of the Sun. So it weaves from them a silk brodery and a sign and freedom whose fragrance is perfumed with every inhalation and exhalation.
That earthly paradise, transformed in the blink of an eye into a Hell, fire, blood and catastrophe, all this 'by the grace' of the swarms of locusts bringing the wind of the Wahhabist poisons, and their loathsome takfir. So blood that had no sin flowed, and heads were cut that only bowed to God and the homeland, and wombs that only bore heroes supporting the army of the homeland were cut open.
Ishtabraq: the silent tragedy, or let us say: the catastrophe whose news and shock were lost in the traffic of the war, blood and torments.
Istabraq: my little homeland steeped in blood, and my hometown, and the pasture of my childhood and youth, and the source of my treasures and memories, in an illumination for me through this study.
Important historical study:
The locality of Istabraq officially.
And it is called the locality of Ishtabraq popularly.
Jisr al-Shughur- Idlib province- Syria.
The place of nature and beauty and the birthplace of manhood and martyrs.
The occasion of the study:
That barbaric war that has been imposed on my Syria, and my locality of Istabraq has had its great share of killing, displacement, destruction, captivity and kidnapping, and were it not for this that paradise would remain forgotten like the other Firdouses with which my land teems and her sons do not know of them.
And let us begin with the chapters of the story:
. The time: that accursed April of 2015.
. The place: the gentle locality of Istabraq
. The event: a dreadful massacre and a bloody war against its defenseless people
. The result: killing, cutting off heads, displacement, captivity, rape and occupation.
On date 25 April 2015 the conspiracy supported externally and internationally with the aim of tearing apart and dividing Syria into cantons and little states in service of the usurping Zionist entity and its agents the people of the camel.
Those gangs that committed the most monstrous crimes of killing and displacement of the inhabitants of those areas on a hateful ethnic, sectarian and political basis with the aim of demographic change of the inhabitants and history. The toll of that war of theirs was 200 martyrs and more than 160 kidnapped and missing and hundreds of families that were forcibly displaced from their homes, along with their loss of their livelihoods, homes and possessions, and the destruction of their village and destruction of the graves and religious shrines and tombs and the private and governmental facilities.
. And we in our role respond to that war and its gangs through our loyalty to the homeland and its sayyid and army and our steadfastness on our principles because we are the owners of the land and the cause. And we affirm the lack of bartering of our position that rejects the killing, destruction and sectarianism as well as our rejection of your oppression and criminality, and we affirm our insistence on returning again and rebuilding those areas and villages in people and stones, while you, your criminality and hatred will disappear.
And for you is the study:
. The geographic place:
. In a break-taking touristic place and on a green mountainous slope that is an extension of the series of the eastern Latakia mountains that overlook the al-Ghab plain, 55 km away from Idlib governorate and affiliated with it. And some 3 km southwest of the town of Jisr al-Shughur has Istabraq been situated and placed.
Importance and place:
. It is distinguished by its touristic location in which there is the intersection of the old rail line from Latakia that heads to Aleppo as it passes through Istabraq station. And from the east of its gardens passes the route of Jisr al-Shughur heading towards al-Ghab and Damascus, and in front of its gardens also the island of the intersection of the Aleppo-Latakia highway is constituted.
In addition there is its green nature for it neighbors the mountainous forests and peripheries of vineyards that overlap and belong to the two villages of Halouz and Istabraq to the west, and from the east are the fields and gardens that extend from the mouth of the Orontes River and the gardens of the village of al-Salihiya.
And amid these two captivating scenes, between the mountain and plain you find dozens of springs that emanate from among the rocks, as they pour out into the irrigation canals and rock channels to the east and south such that the green surrounding becomes completed- that which the locality wears like the brocade (istabraq), and it is the name it took from that greenery.
Its history and naming:
Irrigation canals were discovered that go back to the depths of Roman history, established by ancient men that set them up and built them from stone and bricks and this shows the presence of the springs in it and social life around it of charming nature and the glistening water that poured out and flowed from the heart of the calcic rocks. And those charming advantages were a factor in attracting and luring life and the settlement of man in this good and blessed land.
As for the reasons for the naming:
When the mutasawwaf preacher and poet the Islamic prince al-Makzun al-Sinjari undertook his journey- coming with an expeditionary force of his fighters that had been supported by the Hamdanid dynastic state at the time (Aleppo today) and heading to the mountains of the Syrian coast- and after he passed through the town of Jisr al-Shughur, he was charmed by its beauty and greenery and its glistening water, so he settled in Istabraq and remained in it for a number of weeks, resting from his wandering, and enjoying its fresh air, the views, gardens and pleasant springs, as well as the generosity and welcoming of its noble people. And this is what the doctor and Syrian thinker As'ad Ali the lecturer in Tishreen University mentioned in the context of the talk, in his articles concerning the personality of al-Makzun al-Sinjari and his sojourn in the year 583 AH i.e. 1187 CE when he mentioned:
The amir al-Makzun met with the sons of the locality subsequently and he wanted to call their locality by the name Istabraq that was previously called Basatin al-Akrad for its proximity to Jabal al-Akrad previously: the mountains of the Syrian coast today.
And that is tantamount the naming 'Istabraq' and out of affection and bestowal of it as it comes in the chapters of the Noble Qur'an in the Almighty's words: 'And they wear green clothes from silk brocade and brocade'- God Almighty has spoken the truth.
And therefore the sons of the locality liked this bestowal of name as it was mentioned in the Noble Qur'an and it reminds them of the personality of the notable al-Makzun al-Sinjari who was honored.
The sons of the locality are Syrians till the spinal cord, patriotic and Muslims (Alawites) on the madhhab of Ja'afar al-Sadiq, and they are proud of this lineage of theirs and not ashamed, and they have been connected with trustworthy relations with the sons and components of the diverse society neighboring them from all the societal and religious components of the sons of Jisr al-Shughur that is their town and greater homeland and in a state of completeness, brotherhood and good neighborhood. They reject sectarianism and other tools of colonialism and they cling to their patriotic and nationalist affiliation and their absolute loyalty to Syria.
And during the time of the Ottoman occupation of the Arab homeland and Syria, Turkification was imposed and the two languages mingled with each other and it popularly called Ishtabraq by replacing the sin with a shin as in some of the Semitic and other languages.
But the original naming of 'Istabraq' is still used with the official and governmental sides and the directorate of civil registration and likewise is the case in the personal cards granted to the citizens until this day of ours. What I affirm in my posts is of the necessity of preserving the first naming (Istabraq).
. The touristic importance:
Istabraq has been renowned for plantation of trees of olives, pomegranates, figs, apricots, grapes, grains and vegetables that the inhabitants, whose numbers reached around 2500 persons in the year 2000, relied upon. And this number subsequently decreased after the waves of forced displacement that resulted from the massacres that were committed against the people and civilians by the terrorist groups since the outset of 2011 until 2015, as their number reduced to 1500 persons and they are IDPs from the massacres and those for whom remaining was decreed as fate.
And so long as Istabraq was a destination for the tourists and vacationers who were spending the happiest times under its green shade and alongside its glistening springs, and most of the inhabitants would be awaiting the tourist season as a source of income for them, so the snack bars, rest stops and popular restaurants spread to be penetrated by the springs amid their sides and to become among the most important vacationing areas in the summer season and especially after the provision of services, and the locality was subsequently classified on the tourist map in Syria as a vacationing and tourist spot in Idlib province.
The importance of the springs of Istabraq:
. The Ain al-Kabirah spring is considered among the most abundant and biggest springs, and the most important thing that distinguishes it is the big popular pool surrounded by rocks of various size especially after the services procedures that the locality undertook after it was considered a base for guests participating in the twelfth regional festival for the Ba'ath Vanguards that as held at that time in Idlib in spring 1987.
. And concerning the importance of the Ain al-Kabirah spring it suffices for us to say: it waters more than 1500 dunams of agricultural lands and gardens that are spread over a distance of 3 km and that is at east without any expenditure for the operation of pumping and which pours out after that into the Orontes River.
And following in abundance:
. The Ain al-Qassab spring:
Which waters 500 dunams at least, as a wheat grinder has been established at the bottom of that spring that turns it into cracked wheat and flour and which operates by the pressure of the water pouring out on the millstone, and it belonged to its owner the deceased Abu Hikmat al-Sharif as it is still witness to the noble ancestry and endurance of the one of Istabraq.
. And from there the Ain al-Shayara spring and the water fall pouring out from the highest of the mountain and the presence of the natural cave filled with water at the bottom of the waterfall and there were subsequently established a summer resort and popular snack bar around that spring.
. Ain al-Tayna: and it provided water for the people and inhabitants of the town of Jisr al-Shughur.
. And also Ain al-Sumaqa, Ain al-Tahun, Ain Dalul, Ain Karo, Ain al-Safsafa, Ain al-Rayhaniya.
Istabraq was affiliated with the Jisr al-Shughur city council since the 1960s, and during this time and until 1984 the village did not obtain its share of any noteworthy services. But after 1984 in the time of the deceased president Hafez al-Assad a decision was issued to establish a local administration ministry and what followed it from the formation of a municipal services council for the first time and it was headed by my father the deceased Ibrahim Hassan Fakhro, and to it were joined the villages of Istabraq, Halouz and Ghaniya.
And there occurred the broadening of the council to include the villages of Istabraq, Ghaniya,al-Sheikh Sandiyan Fawqani and Tahtani and Mazra'at al-Salihiya and Mazra'at Hawwara and Dhahr al-Maraj at the outset of 2010.
The locality includes a primary school by the name of the Martyr Nader Jarad since the 1970s, as well as a preparatory school called by the name of the Martyr Yunis Fakhro since the 1980s.
Also a farmer association was established, along with a health center as well as a passenger train station to whose establishment the renowned deceased sheikh Ma'rouf Ma'rouf and the municipal council contributed.
Also a mosque for the locality was established by the name of al-Hussein bin Ali (may God be pleased with him) through the efforts of the sons of the locality.
And let us not forget the old religious tombs and shrines for which the locality became known.
And at the outset of the global war against Syria at the outset of 2011 until this day of ours, the locality was exposed to waves of destruction and ruin to its residential houses and service and educational offices, just as the religious shrines and tombs were exposed to systematic destruction. And the people were exposed to barbaric massacres that took the lives of hundreds of the inhabitants on a hateful sectarian basis, and this is because of the patriotic stances of the inhabitants of the locality, who rejected the aggressive war against Syria at the hands of the terrorist gangs and mercenaries supported by the Turkish and Gulf regimes and also with the aim of demographic change of the inhabitants. And this is what happened in the massacres of 1915 against the inhabitants of the locality and happened to other components in Syria of the Armenians and Arabs at the hands of the Ottoman occupation and its gangs.
. The sons and people of Istabraq were known for being a place for generosity and love, clinging to their land, and they defended with all courage, and they paid a heavy price stamped with blood and hundreds of martyrs and they are still prepared for that, as they have been prominent in important stations and prominent sites (national, political, thought, scientific and literary) that have contributed to and enriched Syrian life.
. A great number of the youth of the locality hastened to enlist in the Syrian Arab Army in order to participate in defending the homeland and the blood of hundreds of them has been baptized in the soil of Syria.
And today they are intending to return the locality from the filth of the terrorist mercenaries who have infiltrated into Syria from all the states of the world and especially of the Arabs, Uyghurs, Chechens and foreigners, and they are determined to rebuild the locality in people and stone and revive it by the zeal of its noble sons and efforts of the army.
Q: To which areas did the displaced from the locality of Ishtabraq flee and where do they live currently?
A: After the massacre that occurred against the people, most of them fled to Latakia province and its countryside and took up residence there, until their locality should be liberated from the hateful Zionist-takfiri terrorism.
Q: Have any kidnapped been released until now? What is the number of kidnapped and missing today?
A: I have taken up the cause of the kidnapped and have contacted the official and governmental and media parties to resolve that portfolio.
I have sent a message to his eminence the President Bashar al-Assad in the name of the relatives of the kidnapped, and an important accomplishment was achieved on that level and was embodied in the release of the kidnapped on five stages, as the number of kidnapped reached 160 persons, of whom 110 were freed, and 17 persons have remained kidnapped, most of them women and children. While the remaining number have been lost and killed.
Regarding the fifth anniversary of the massacre that coincided with 25 April 2020, I organized and sent a message of request to the residence of the President of the Syrian Arab Republic Dr. Bashar al-Assad. I handed it to the Mr. Major General Ibrahim Khidr al-Salim, the governor of Latakia.
(Update 5 May 2020): Feda Ibrahim Fakhro has also provided me a eulogy he wrote for his brother Fakhr Ibrahim Fakhro, who was part of the Amn Askari (military security/military intelligence) unit massacred in June 2011 by insurgents in the Jisr al-Shughur area.
Feda Ibrahim Fakhro at the grave of his brother Fakhr Ibrahim Fakhro.
Martyrs of the Massacre of the Military Security Unit in Jisr al-Shughur Syria:
The hero martyr the lieutenant by honor: Fakhr Ibrahim Fakhro (Abu Basil)
In the locality of Istabraq- Idlib 1976 CE, as he lived his childhood in it and drank from its glistening water and breathed its pleasant air, and lived by its abundant resources.
His mother: the deceased Khadija Hassan Saqir.
His life: a courageous man, noble, and who had a merry spirit, loving the people, and a father affectionate towards his family, and proud for his homeland and people, of good reputation and values. And I had lived with him throughout his life and knew that up close.
Social status: Married with two daughters and son: Tayma of third high school grade, Leen eighth grade, Basil third grade.
Place and date of martyrdom: in the beginning of the global and oppressive war against our beloved homeland 15 March 2011, the events began with the so-called peaceful demonstrations and black revolutions that call for supposed freedom in Syria. And this peaceful nature showed its true face when the terrorist contingents carried out the ugliest massacre against the forces of the military security unit.
And at the time in which the members of the military unit had committed no act and no work had appeared from them outside the law and humanitarian behaviour towards the new revolutionaries, and that was on the 5th and 6th of the month of June in 2011, which revealed the truth of this peaceful nature and my brother the martyr Fakhr and his comrades (120 soldiers) were among the victims and martyrs of that massacre that was planned and supported by Erdogan's Turkey.
It is to be noted that the martyrs of the Jisr unit did not surrender to the attack of the mercenary gangs and the clashes lasted for 36 consecutive hours, and the personnel of the unit were besieged from all sides. Also they were targeted by all types of criminal action and especially rigging barrels with explosives and throwing them in a bulldozer against the walls of the building, and after that the bodies of the martyrs were desecrated and tossed into the Orontes River.
That terrible massacre revealed and disproved clearly the supposed peaceful nature of the revolution that has brought killing and terrorising to the Syrian people. And this is what it has continued upon to this day of ours from criminality and black terrorism.
All mercy to you my precious brother and your hero companions who recorded the greatest acts of heroism, and love for Syria, with a pen of pure blood that watered the land of our precious homeland, which will make a rose and great victory and new arising bloom for Syria. And I thank from the heart all who have offered condolences to us and relatives and those who loved the martyr Fakhr Fakhro.
The Fakhro family
The people of the locality of Istabraq
And all who loved the hero martyr.
All condolences and granting of success and good for my brother's wife Umm Basil God be with her over the separation of my brother from her, along with lasting success and good for the precious children of the martyr (Tayma and Leen and Basil).
Mercy to the hero martyrs.
And freedom for the missing and kidnapped and the abodes from which our people have been displaced in Syria.
Victory to the Syrian Arab Army and its leader the Marshal Bashar al-Assad.
Long live Syria, the land of the fathers and ancestors.
Latakia: Syria (1 April 2017)
Written by the brother of the martyr, the comrade Feda Ibrahim Fakhro.
(Update 6 May 2020): The names of those freed from the people of the locality of Ishtabraq:
As per the exchange process that the Syrian government undertook with the armed groups present in south Damascus countryside and was completed on 1 May 2018 CE. And they are:
1. Maher Younis Fakhro: child, born in Ishtabraq in 2008.
2. Warda Talib Haro, born in Ishtabraq, housewife in 1988.
3. Aswam Hassan Fakhro- girl- born in Ishtabraq in 1957.
4. Tajah Hassan Fakhro- housewife- born in Ishtabraq in 1957.
5. Nadira Suleiman Fakhro- worker- born in Ishtabraq in 1962.
6. Asma Nasr Fakhro- student- born in Ishtabraq in 2006.
7. Mahmoud Aymenn Fakhro- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2015.
8. Zain Aymenn Fakhro- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2011.
9. Sharuq Hassan Fakhro- student- born in Ishtabraq in 2001.
10. Huda Ahmad Fakhro- housewife- born in Ishtabraq in 1958.
11. Ayah Nasr Fakhro- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2007.
12. Zainab Rajab Hamoud- housewife- born in Ishtabraq in 1985.
13. Rahma Muhammad Abu Shaqir- housewife- born in Ishtabraq in 1930.
14. Fahima Zaidan Abu Shaqir- housewife born in Ishtabraq in 1955.
15. Mais Rajab Hamoud- school teacher- born in Ishtabraq in 1992.
16. Rajab Mustafa Hamoud- child- born in Harem in 2013.
17. Nairmin Mu'aid al-Hayek- housewife- born in Latakia in 1995.
18. Badra Mahmoud Ghaliyeh- housewife- born in Kafariya in 1933.
19. Jawdat Nouri Jarad- retired teacher- born in Ishtabraq in 1949.
20. Linda Jawdat Jarad- housewife- born in 1982.
21. Ghafran Ali Jarad- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2004.
22. Hameeda Mustafa Douba housewife- born in Ishtabraq in 1960.
23. Ahmad Osama Jarad- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2010.
24. Ayah Ali Jarad- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2009.
25. Bailsan Ali Jarad- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2011.
26. Mundhar Munir Khudaira- worker- born in Ishtabraq in 1969.
27. Haya Mundhar Khudaira- housewife- born in Ishtabraq.
28. Nasiba Mundhar Khudaira- student- born in Ishtabraq.
29. Na'ima Ismail al-Abd- housewife- born in Ishtabraq in 1972.
30. Samar Hasib Haro- child- born in Harem in 2015.
31. Ali Abd al-Kareem Shalfoun- disabled- born in Ishtabraq in 1974.
32. Watfah Abd al-Kareem Shalfoun- born in Ishtabraq in 1950.
33. Warda Ahmad Ibrahim- worker- born in Ishtabraq in 1966.
34. Khaloud Qasim Masri- housewife- born in Ishtabraq in 1985.
35. Saidra Osama Jarad- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2004.
36. Fatima Osama Jarad- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2011.
37. Zainab Osama Jarad- child- born n Ishtabraq in 2007.
38. Hanan Qasim Masri- housewife- born in Ishtabraq in 1982.
39. Sabah Jamil Hamdo- housewife- born in Latakia in 1969.
40. Malak Haitham Masri- child- born in Ishtabraq in 2007.
41. Nour al-Din Jarda- employee- born in al-Jumailia in 1969.
42. Kasir Ahmad al-Abd- worker- head of household- born in Ishtabraq in 1968.
And God willing with the freeing of those who remain over all the geography of Syrian in the prisons of the armed terrorist groups.
Sincere thanks and regards to the leader of the homeland, the president Dr. Bashar Hafez al-Assad, and to our intrepid men in the Syrian Arab Army, and to the sacrifices of our great martyrs. And from victory to victory for beloved Syria until the return of security and peace.
On behalf of the relatives of those freed and kidnapped in the locality of Ishtabraq.
The comrade Feda Ibrahim Fakhro 1 May 2018.
(Update 6 May 2020): The recollection of the first day of the assault on Ishtabraq (22 April 2015):
There occurred on the likes of this day:
Wednesday, 22 April 2015, the first day of the aggression and the beginning of the barbaric massacre of the locality of Ishtabraq.
The beginning of the barbaric attack by the armed terrorist contingents- supported by the regimes of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar- against the town of Jisr al-Shughur and the locality of Ishtabraq in Idlib province.
When at 6 a.m. those gangs began to target those areas with hundreds of mortar rockets and explosive gas canisters, and attack the checkpoints of the Syrian Arab Army that were spread out and defending those areas. Also the civilian citizens were targeted in those confrontations and aggressive attacks which led to the martyrdom and wounding of large numbers.
I remember very well as I was present in the locality with the people. We spread out on the fronts next to where those gangs were present and we participated in resisting those mercenaries. We also evacuated a number of the wounded.
Also, along with the mukhtar of the village the martyr Ibrahim Haro and a number of the youth of the locality, I secured the women and children in a mountain cave called the Ain al-Kabira cave or the Zaidan cave. What happened in the locality resembled most what happened in a Palestinian village, suffering from a destructive Zionist attack with the aim of breaking the steadfastness of its people remaining and clinging to the land.
And among the wounded kidnapped people: Ali Jamil Doua, Ali Habib Jarad, and the citizen Salim Masri.
We will not forget these people.
The people of Istabraq remember this day with pain.
We will not forget those who forsook us.
And we will not abandon our land, cause and Syria.
Returning and victorious over the enemies.
Comrade Feda Ibrahim Fakhro- Latakia.
Thoughts of a displaced person.
Title of the thought: sorrow and pain over a homeland.
The writer of the thought: your friend Feda Ibrahim Fakhro.
Occasion of the thought:
In response to the barbaric war to which Syria and those localities have been exposed at the hands of the armed terrorist contingent and gangs since 2011 all the way to the barbaric attack on date 25 April 2015 and supported externally and internationally with the aim of tearing apart and dividing Syria into cantons and little states in service to the usurping Zionist entity.
For you is the thought:
On this cold October night, as darkness and silence have come upon all.
I was alone sitting near the balcony of the house in which I have been living here in Latakia after my forced displacement with my family and children.
And while I was contemplating the darkness of the sky as it glistened with wonderful stars, suddenly the feelings of pain and sadness began to afflict me. And as soon as the questions began to be shoved and crowded into my imagination regarding what befell us, on that black and harsh day, the day the hearts were displaced from our bodies, the soul from its place, the day of the barbaric attack on the morning of Saturday 25 April 2015.
I brought back my recollection to those painful moments, when the mortars of death and bullets of treachery and barbarism began to fall with intensity on my beloved darling village of Istabraq, and on our innocent people, when it became 7 a.m., and the people were terrified, baffled and worried between the pain of the separation of the loved ones and the desire to cling to the land at times, while the hands were on the trigger confronting with force those striking beasts, the likes of which my eyes had not seen before except in Western cinema films and bloody wars.
A child called Maya killed while in her mother's embrace as her blood poured out.
And an elderly village man called Abu Ali Shaqir who refused to leave so he became a prisoner of the beasts of the night and the bullets of their treachery wounded him so he fell as a martyr while his wife Umm Ali in her 80s became a prisoner in the hands of the mercenaries.
And a fighting and poor man called Zaher Jarad, a father of a family of six girls, infiltrating between the gardens and trees trying to save that family, and he had resisted them after they tried to attack him and his family. He became a prisoner and it came to pass that those mercenaries killed him through slaughter with the knives of their treachery in an evil criminal act, and they took pride in that through a photo of their evil deeds. And his family becae prisoners in the hands of these wolves. And the sin of Zaher- this resisting Syrian- is that he held fast to his home and village.
And the mukhtar of the village- Abu Yunis- that good and patriotic and proud man who rushed to save 60 people- most of them women, children and elderly- using his Kia car, taking on the route of snipers and death so he fell as a martyr and all who were wit him were kidnapped and likewise his entire family, and dozens upon dozens of others besides them whose fate was likewise in trying to be rid of the claws of those barbaric beasts.
Where is the humanity?
Where is the justice?
Where is the dignity?
All that has happened to our people in the locality and in Syria, criminal acts under the same flashing slogans that have been raised by those mercenaries.
Divine care prescribed for me that my family and I miraculously got out from the hands of those beasts, whose criminality and killing befell hundreds of our people and those who were with us, and among them are those who became prisoners.
I took a cigarette and deep breath as I recalled what happened and the pain and sadness penetrating my depths like an avenging volcano, and with determination, certainty and challenge, and the answer to that historical criminality has been that we will endure, resist, wage war and confront these beasts and will not submit to them, because we are the people of truth, the people of the abode and country and cause.
And we will take revenge for the blood of our oppressed and kidnapped people. This is the state of millions of our sons of beloved Syria today, as the striking beasts have afflicted them, the terrorist takfiri criminal killers who claim this is jihad?! While Palestine, the first cause and foundation of jihad. remains not far from the border. This is because they are the tools of that Zionist entity Israel and the enemy America, and agents of the foolish Erdogan and the sons of the camel and others of the invading aggressors.
And we the millions of our people in Syria who resist and cling to their homeland, say to the far and near: this will not be a place for terrorism, and they will be defeated under the feet of our intrepid national army, and the noble people of the homeland. And by their zeal, terrorism will be defeated and the eagles of truth and falcons of victory will soar and will annihilate the rats.
And the Sun of freedom and truth will rise again at the hands of the men of God, the men of the Syrian Arab Army and the noble ones of the homeland and by the wisdom of the symbol leader Preisdent Bashar al-Assad, whether after a long or short time, and indeed God's victory is near.
Latakia- Syria (1 November 2016)
Comrade Feda Ibrahim Fakhro.
(Update 8 May 2020): a letter that was written to Bashar al-Assad on behalf of the people of Ishtabraq:
Dear Mr. President Dr. Bashar al-Assad president of the Syrian Arab Republic:
Via the esteemed governor of Latakia
Arabic greetings and as for what follows:
We the people of the village of Ishtabraq and all the noble sons of the homeland follow with all pride and honour the heroic acts of the Syrian Arab Army over the geographic area of Syria and especially the recent military operation in Deraa province to cleanse it of the filth of the armed terrorist gangs and restore security and peace to its territory and the operation there has neared its end and this is all by the grace of your wisdom and patience, Mr. President.
Mr. President, we the oppressed people of the village of Istabraq- to who there occurred what occurred and you are more knowledgeable of our state- highly value your great leadership role in defending the homeland and your bearing the great burden of responsibility placed on your shoulder, just as we thank you for your efforts and the zeal of the Syrian Arab Army in releasing the prior contingent of our kidnapped people from Harem prison on 1 May 2018.
And we call on you Mr. President to connect the portfolio of our remaining people kidnapped in the prisons of the terrorist gangs in Idlib province with an exchange with those armed people who will be gotten out of Deraa province to Idlib province after their surrender. And there have remained from our people a number of 45 people kidnapped among children, women and youth among those armed gangs in Idlib province, and this is according to the acknowledgement of the insurgents during the previous rounds of negotiation.
And as you know Mr. President: our kidnapped people are the ones who clung to their land and locality and rejected to leave it despite the bullets of the aggressors and their hateful mortars and despite the ugly massacres they committed, the first of which was the massacre of the Military Security in Jisr al-Shughur. And the youth of the village of Ishtabraq have had the honour of real participation, sacrifice, self-sacrifice and martyrdom from the personnel of that military unit.
So the sons of the locality never went in the wrong direction and as soon as they unsheathed the weapons of glory and dignity by their natural disposition and defended the beloved Syria to lift the oppression and destroy the entity of the conspiracy, they got into the epic battle of defending the homeland, of which we are all proud as well as our belonging to it, all the way to the massacre that was committed against the people of the village of Ishtabraq all of a sudden on date 25 April 2015.
And this led to the martyrdom of 200 people of men, women, children, breast-feeding infants and elderly from the people of that steadfast locality, just as more than 150 people were kidnapped from those who remained alive.
Dear Mr. President: amid these events, consequences and the suffering of the living martyrs from the relatives of the kidnapped, and amid the tears of the widows, orphans, disabled and poor and the need that has come upon the heads of those displaced and the people of the kidnapped, those remaining alive of the sons of the locality of Ishtabraq are living in difficult circumstances, nay, harsh even and suffering that the tongue cannot describe. And that has been the case for more than 3 years and the tragedy continues and gets worse, while the inner corner of the eye has dried up from the amount of grief and weeping of the orphans and widows and their questions that have not ceased: until when we will remain on this state?!
And we have no response except patience and faith in the homeland. And it suffices for us that our sufferings and sighs of our people should reach you oh sayyid of the homeland. For in your den the right of an oppressed does not go to loss, nor goes to loss our firm certainty that Bashar al-Assad has not only become a hope for the Syrians but also a lighthouse for all the free, noble and oppressed in the world.
May God protect you and guide you Mr. President and we will remain continuing on our course on your proper direction in defending the homeland, its glory and dignity.
As-salam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu
Latakia on 8 July 2018.
From the people of the village of Ishtabraq.
The comrades: Wasil Douba, Jawdat Jarad, Nadima Khadro, Randah Douba
The retired brigadier general Hussam Ibrahim
The retired captain Salim Ibrahim
The lawyer Yusuf Dibo Hamoud
The media spokesman comrade Feda Ibrahim Fakhro
Below is the letter addressed to Bashar al-Assad via the governor of Latakia on the fifth anniversary of the Ishtabraq massacre, raising the issue of those who remain kidnapped. Note that the precise figures on the kidnapped and missing are as follows: the number was initially 165 persons. Over five stages, 110 were freed, while 38 were apparently killed and 17 remain kidnapped.
Dear Leader Mr. President Bashar Hafez al-Assad:
President of the Syrian Arab Republic
Via Mr. Major General Ibrahim Khidr al-Salim- respected governor of Latakia.
On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the painful massacre of the village of Ishtabraq coinciding with 25 April 2020 we present to you and call on you to direct the relevant parties to work on freeing the remaining kidnapped people from our wounded stolen village that continues to suffer under the coercion of terrorism until this very day. And we provide to you in what follows the names of the rest of the kidnapped of women and children of the village of Istabraq affiliated with the Jisr al-Shughur area, kidnapped by the armed terrorist groups in the prison of Harem and Idlib. And they are as follows:
|No.||Three-fold name||Mother's name||Place and date of birth||Date of kidnapping|
|1||Yazan Manhat Abu Shaqir||Zainab Hamoud||Istabraq 1998||25 April 2015|
|2||Ibrahim Muhammad Ibrahim||Ibtisam Zaidan||Istabraq 2002||25 April 2015|
|3||Riyadh Yusuf Shalfoun||Anab Muhammad||Istabraq 2002||25 April 2015|
|4||Ali Mundhar Khudaira||Rabah Jarad||Istabraq 2003||25 April 2015|
|5||Haydar Haitham Masri||Sabah Hamdo||Istabraq 2003||25 April 2015|
|6||Ibtisam Darwish Zaidan||Fahima Ghadeera||Salanfa 1969||25 April 2015|
|7||An'am Muhammad Ibrahim||Ibtisam Zaidan||Istabraq 2001||25 April 2015|
|8||Anab Yusuf Shalfoun||Sahr||Istabraq 1986||25 April 2015|
|9||Muhammad Zhafir Ibrahim||Anab Shalfoun||Istabraq 2003||25 April 2015|
|10||Haydar Zhafir Ibrahim||Anab Shalfoun||Istabraq 2005||25 April 2015|
|11||Ali Zhafir Ibrahim||Anab Shalfoun||Istabraq 2007||25 April 2015|
|12||Ghadeer Zhafir Ibrahim||Anab Shalfoun||Istabraq 2009||25 April 2015|
|13||Maryam Zhafir Ibrahim||Anab Shalfoun||Istabraq 2012||25 April 2015|
|14||Nariman Basam Dawi||Basina Nasir||Darkoush 1996||25 April 2015|
|15||Turki Shahoud Hawat||Maryam||Istabraq 1964||2013|
|16||Ghassan Muhammad Ibrahim||Khadouj||Istabraq 1966||2014|
|17||Hassan Ibrahim Haro||Hameeda||Istabraq 1982||2014|
And we remain on the pledge behind your wise leadership and alongside the Syrian Ara Army in continuing to defend the soil of the precious homeland and cleansing it from the filth of terrorism.
Mercy to the noble martyrs and healing for the wounded and freedom for our kidnapped and return to the abode and victory for our heroic army.
Latakia 25 April 2020
On behalf of the relatives of the kidnapped and missing in the locality of Istabraq.
Comrade Feda Ibrahim Fakhro
Comrade Lawyer Yusuf Dibo Hamoud