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Interview with a Syrian Army and FSA Defector

category mashriq / arabia / iraq | imperialism / war | interview author Wednesday August 13, 2014 15:35author by Brandon Gray Report this post to the editors

In the apartment of a mutual friend I meet a young man from Aleppo I will call 'Ahmed' for his safety. His mood is lighthearted despite having part of a limb blown off by a grenade while fighting with the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo. We talk over tea and cigarettes while our friend Anarch translates. Ahmed takes a call from a friend in Syria with bad news: ISIS, the ruthless foe the FSA and other moderate brigades fought hard to kick out earlier this year, is back in Aleppo province. He puts down his phone and we begin the interview.

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Interview with a Syrian Army and FSA Defector


In the apartment of a mutual friend I meet a young man from Aleppo I will call 'Ahmed' for his safety. His mood is lighthearted despite having part of a limb blown off by a grenade while fighting with the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo. We talk over tea and cigarettes while our friend Anarch translates. Ahmed takes a call from a friend in Syria with bad news: ISIS, the ruthless foe the FSA and other moderate brigades fought hard to kick out earlier this year, is back in Aleppo province. He puts down his phone and we begin the interview.
B: What were you doing when the revolution came to you?

Ah: The first year and a half I was with the Syrian regime army then I defected from the Syrian Army and joined the FSA.

Why did you defect?

Because I witnessed everything. The howitzers of the Syrian Army shelled me when I was on the frontline and I heard the women screaming and the children screaming from the shelling. So I saw what was happening and after I saw what was happening I knew this is not what I should do in this world, this is not my life.

When you went over to the FSA, what was that like? Did they welcome you and who did you talk with to make that connection?

When I defected from the Syrian Army my aunt was working with the FSA so she granted me the welcome. The car came to get me and take me to the brigade's place. When I got there the guys who were there were mostly defectors from the Syrian Army. So marshalls, generals, those kind of guys so it was a warm welcome.

When was this?

Like a year ago.

So the FSA was in Aleppo then?

When the FSA get to Aleppo I was with the Syrian Army on the frontlines against the FSA. So I defected from the frontline of the Syrian Army and joined the other frontline.

Were you afraid or feel bad fighting the guys you were with? Did you have friends in the Army when you left?

After all, I was not pointing [my weapon] for killing, I was getting the other side to be terrified of him and both sides were terrified so it was not like a frontline after all.

How did fighting with the FSA compare with fighting with the Syrian Army?

Fighting with the Syrian Army controls your life. So you can't take vacations, you can't take a day off, you do whatever they tell you to do because they are an organized army. You can see the organizing, you can't do whatever you like. But fighting with the FSA means you are free to live your life but whenever they call you for attacking a place you should stay for the watch and you should go. Then after your watch shift ends you can go home, you can do whatever you want.

Did you see the FSA change in how they treated you or the civilians, as you were fighting with them? Did fighting with the FSA change as time passed?

As time passed, I saw that the FSA was trying all the time to convince the Syrian Army that they were brothers. They really wanted to convince the other side that they are not terrorists, they are fighting for their freedom but the Syrian Army has this outlook: either you are with us or against us. When you are with us you are Syrian, when you are against us you are terrorists. So after time they started not to go just for killing but to go to the frontline to convince the other side that this is not a conspiracy, we are not aliens, we are just like you—humans.

Even when they arrest some of the guys that are fighting with the Syrian Army, first of all they ask them “have you killed anybody?” If he says “no” then they give him options; if he wants them to take him to a secure area, if he wants to fight with them, if he wants to go to his home, but the only option they don't offer is fighting with the Syrian Army again.

When were you injured?

5 months ago.

Were you fighting alongside Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS? Did you talk to those guys?

I worked alongside (not with) Jabhat al Nusra but I didn't work alongside Daash [Islamic State, aka ISIS]. I saw al mujahideen (the Islamists that are from outside Syria fighting inside Syria) trying to convince the FSA of their prime goal which is raising the words 'Allah u akbar' in the Islamic states. They were trying to convince everybody in the FSA to join them for this goal, as they say it is a very noble goal to return the Caliphate but working with them means you are organized again just like the Syrian Army but you have time to go out but they say when you can go out--but you have time to go out. You can go home but they say when you go home. In the FSA you are free, if there is no fighting you can do what you want.

Did you ever see the fighting as a religious war or you never saw if that way?

No, I didn't see this war as a religious war. In the first place it's a revolution against Assad, they want to throw away Assad and live with freedom but when Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamist groups came the other people looked at it this way: they want the authority for them, so if it's the old Sunnah state then we have the authority, we can be rich—Assad rich—so they are convinced by this idea, not the ideology of Islam, it's the ideology of controlling people. It's the idea that we have everything. That's why other than Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic groups everybody else didn't have this idea that it's a religious war between Sunni and Shia.

The people who are working with Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic groups, I see them as rednecks. They are convinced that if Jabhat al Nusra take power in Syria they will teach people how to pray, they will teach people how to be close to Allah, to be religious and that sort of thing and after they leave we can do what we want. After all, being an Islamic state, the people were happy about the idea that if Jabhat al Nusra take power then we will be organized, we won't be such 'hippies' [laughing]. People were happy about the idea that you work as Allah tells you just because they are Muslims.

In the first place, Jabhat al Nusra was saying to them we are not going to rule you we are just coming to help you throw away the dictatorship. Then after a while they came to them and said 'we want to get married, we want to have wives here, have kids, and after all we are helping you so help us.'

If you were not injured would you still be fighting with the FSA?

Before the injury I was thinking about leaving the FSA because I saw that even the FSA did want to win the war just to take the authority. Every single one of them wanted a seat, a role. The brigade leader was happy that his word was heed by all of them, he can tell the people what to do. When I saw this I knew I must leave the FSA and go out of Syria.

Are you happy in Turkey? Do you feel you have a life here outside of Syria?

After all, the first thing is that here I am not frightened of death every second of my life. Secondly, Syria has turned into a jungle where the strong eat the unlucky and I didn't want to be an unlucky person. If I want to live there, I should know the leaders of the brigades, or I should know that guy or that guy so I can live my life. After working with the Syrian Army and the FSA, I know that both of them are liars, both of them are robbers, both of them are killing people. That's why I want to live a life with dignity, I didn't want to rob people or kill them. So I'm here, I'm living my life, having a job right now and it's not home but it's better than home.

It's not just the Syrian Army that you are frightened of, now you have Jabhat al Nusra so you can't listen to music. One time my friend and I were listening to music and Jabhat al Nusra seized the place asking us “what the fuck is happening here?!” and my friend and I were scared for our lives. Then came Daash which is much worse. So there you are going to be killed or you are going to be killed.

Do you ever want to go to Europe or Canada as a refugee?

I don't want to be a refugee. In the first place, after I left the FSA, my family told me to go to the camps in Turkey and be a refugee there where the government is responsible for your feeding, for your housing and I told them, “no, I want to stay as a normal person in a normal place.” That's why going to Europe, living as the government wants you means that whenever the government doesn't want you they can kick you out. So I don't want to live in that danger. I want to live in dignity, I want to have a job, I want to have my place that I pay for, not the government. I want to feed myself. I don't want the government to pay for my feeding.

The most important thing is that since I defected from the Syrian Army I don't have an I.D., I don't have a passport, I don't have nothing to prove my identity. So going there means you are lower than shit. They could throw me in the garbage and nobody would care.

What do you think will happen to Syria?

I don't know, but have you seen the map of Daash? This will happen and those areas that were painted black will be the Caliph's areas and the Syrian regime will stay in Damascus as it is now. So you will have a part that is under the Islamic State and the other part that is not under a non-Islamic state. Of course the regime and its supporters will be happy with this and they will find their place with this Islamic State.

What do you think of this guy being an anarchist?

I'm ok with a moderate life, being against all authority makes sense because all authorities are the same shit. If you are with one the other will kill you because you are against them, if you are with the other than the former will kill you because you are against them. So being against all those [authorities], maybe I won't be rich, I won't be Bill Gates, but I will be happy. All the supporters of the authorities inside Syria will die because whenever Bashar al-Assad wins or the other side, they will die because they are with somebody and against the other. So being anarchist is much easier than being with that.

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Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

Front page

Elementos da Conjuntura Eleitoral 2014

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes

[Chile] EL FTEM promueve una serie de “jornadas de debate sindical”

Ukraine: Interview with a Donetsk anarchist

The present confrontation between the Zionist settler colonialist project in Palestine and the indigenous working people

Prisões e mais criminalização marcam o final da Copa do Mundo no Brasil

An Anarchist Response to a Trotskyist Attack: Review of “An Introduction to Marxism and Anarchism” by Alan Woods (2011)

هەڵوێستی سەربەخۆی جەماوەر لە نێوان داعش و &

Contra a Copa e a Repressão: Somente a Luta e Organização!

Nota Pública de soldariedade e denúncia

Üzüntümüz Öfkemizin Tohumudur

Uruguay, ante la represión y el abuso policial

To vote or not to vote: Should it be a question?

Mayday: Building A New Workers Movement

Anarchist and international solidarity against Russian State repression

Argentina: Atentado y Amenazas contra militantes sociales de la FOB en Rosario, Santa Fe

Réponses anarchistes à la crise écologique

50 оттенков коричневого

A verdadeira face da violência!

The Battle for Burgos

Face à l’antisémitisme, pour l’autodéfense

Reflexiones en torno a los libertarios en Chile y la participación electoral

Mandela, the ANC and the 1994 Breakthrough: Anarchist / syndicalist reflections

Melissa Sepúlveda "Uno de los desafíos más importantes es mostrarnos como una alternativa real"

Mashriq / Arabia / Iraq | Imperialism / War | en

Thu 18 Sep, 01:40

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oabubakralbaghdadi570.jpg imageWhat do we think about the current crisis of Iraq? 21:25 Tue 24 Jun by Kurdish Anarchists Forum 0 comments

The Iraq crisis has been continued for decades while it has been under the power of Saddam Hussein or under the “current democratic Regime” since the invasion of 2003. There were no freedom, no social justice; no equality and also little opportunity for those who were independent from the political parties who were in power. In addition to existing brutality and discrimination against women and the ordinary people a very big gap was created between the rich and poor, making the poor even poorer and the rich richer. [Italiano]

textPalestine-Israel, History's wheels turn faster and scream as blood does not oil the axes enough* 23:23 Mon 26 Aug by Ilan S. 0 comments

The turmoil in our region expresses the melting of world history as we knew it. It accelerates before it reaches its end as the axes of the old order cannot hold it any more. The Zionist settler colonialist bridgehead of the developed imperial countries in the cradle of human culture at the east of the Mediterranean Sea is being eroded by the resistance of the indigenous inhabitants who are recruiting supporters from all over the world. The cracks in neoliberal global capitalism, which seemed to have reached its ultimate victory just a few years ago when the end of history was declared, are pointing to the real end of the history of egoistic and alienated class society. In the day-to-day struggle here, it is still hard to discern the cracks in the structure of the system, but you can already smell it in the clouds of tear gas at the weekly demos and feel the ground tremor under your feet. [Italiano]

textPalestine-Israel, Some activities the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative involved with lately 17:23 Tue 15 Feb by Ilan S. 0 comments

There are four main areas of struggles the AAtW activists are involved with: Joint struggle with communities that invite us to join, like Bil'in and other struggles against the separation fence. Other joint struggles against occupation and settler colonialists like Nabi Salih. Joint struggles with wider coalitions like the Sheikh Jarrah coalition and South Hebron. The fourth is within Israel, like prison and jail solidarity, Al Araqeeb and Lod. It seems that our confrontational and direct-action mode of struggle is being adopted by more and more Israeli radicals.

textIraqi trade union leader on the current situation in Iraq 20:28 Wed 03 Oct by Manuel Baptista 0 comments

Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Workers Councils & Unions in Iraq was recently on a short visit to Lisbon to gather some support for the workers' resistance inside Iraq.

textIsrael: "Occupation 40" - first actions in Tel Aviv 16:48 Wed 06 Jun by Ilan Shalif 1 comments

The 6 days of actions to commemorate the atrocities of the 40 years of Israeli occupation from the 1967 war started in Tel Aviv this afternoon, after an appetizer in the form of nightly hanging of placards during the last few weeks.

text6 days of protests to mark 40 years of occupation 18:50 Tue 05 Jun by Kibush 40 0 comments

For six days, June 5 to 10 - corresponding to the days of the 1967 War - a wide spectrum of events will take place, including exhibitions, demonstrations, theatre plays, academic conferences etc., in order to place a the occupation and the millions suffering under its yoke on the public agenda. June 9 and 10 had been declared as International Days of Protest Against the Israeli Occupation, and we will hold The main march and rally on Saturday, June 9.

textItaly: "Resistance, disobedience, solidarity" - an evening with an Israeli refusni 17:09 Tue 21 Nov by FdCA Fano 0 comments

On Monday 20th November 2006 at the Istituto Tecnico-Commerciale Battisti in Fano, eastern Italy, with Lior Volinytz, a 19-year-old Israeli refusnik and activist in the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative.

textIsrael, Direct action near the border of Gaza Strip 01:29 Sun 19 Nov by Ilan S. 0 comments

It happened when the Zionist leftist peace now (who refused to join the previous Saturday more radical left demonstration against the massacre in Beit Hanun) had their demonstration and at Erez road block. 25 activists organized by the anarchists against the wall initiative traveled to the region bordering the Gaza strip. When the boring speeches started at the peace now not far away demonstration, we entered a compound of army tools of war - about 50 heavily armored soldiers carriers and 5 D9s (of the model that crashed to death Rachel Cury). We climbed on two of the carriers and placed around pictures, banners, and other materials representing massacred people. The soldiers on guard there tried to make us go away but we just ignored their commands. Police officers who came there just asked to see our ID cards, but surprisingly did noting more.

text655,000 Dead in Iraq since Invasion 17:23 Fri 13 Oct by Anarcho 0 comments

According to a new study published by a medical journal between 420,000 and 790,000 Iraqis have died as a result of war and political violence since the beginning of the US-UK invasion in March, 2003, with 655,000 considered the most likely figure.

textStatement on al-Badil article 16:51 Mon 11 Sep by Alternative Libertaire 0 comments

On 27th July 2006, Alternative Libertaire (France) distributed a text entitled "News from Lebanon: the Israeli attack" by our Lebanese comrades, Al-Badil al-Chouyouii al-Taharrouri (Libertarian Communist Alternative). This text denounced the Israeli war, Western plans for a Great Middle East, and criticized Hezbollah as a religious and reactionary organization.

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imageThe wonders of the desperate gamble that Netanyahu lost Aug 26 by Ilan S. 0 comments

To keep Hamas on its legs again after the Egyptian closure forced it to its knees and to compromise with the West Bank Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu started a war that was supposed to set Hamas back on its feet, though much weaker than before the closure.

textKurdish "Terrorists" Rescue Yezidis Aug 15 by PaulB 0 comments

The US special forces finally sent to Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq to assess a mission to rescue the threatened Yezidis this morning [Thursday 14 August], reported that most of the displaced population had already been rescued in the previous days. What is not being widely reported is the identity of the Kurdish forces who secured the northern side of the mountain and opened a safe passage for the threatened Yezidi civilians, through the Syrian territory they control to Dohuk in the north of the Kurdish Autonomous region in Iraq.

Embarrassingly for the US, arriving on its white charger to save the day, only to discover they are far too late, the saviours of the Yezidis are the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and their Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) allies. The PKK are officially on the US and EU “terrorist” lists and the autonomous Syrian region defended by the YPG is subject to blockade by ISIS to the South and West, Turkey to the North and the corrupt Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) regime in Kurdish Northern Iraq to the East.

textIsrael burned the stew Aug 02 by Ilan S. 0 comments

The present Gaza war was started before the actual shooting, by Egypt's blockade of the Gaza Strip, intended to break the rule of Hamas due to it being a part of the Islamic Brotherhood movement. [Italiano] [Türkçe]

imageIsrael/Palestine: Background to the present conflict Jul 27 by Ilan S. 0 comments

Egypt insists on dissolving the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip. Israel "just" wants to sabotage the yielding/compromise by Hamas to the Palestinian West Bank Authority. The relevant political context for the present round begins in November 2012, with the agreement between Israel and Hamas under Egyptian sponsorship. [Italiano] [Português]

textSyria: the Struggle Continues – “Day of Rage Against Al-Qaeda & Assad” Jan 19 by TŘÍDNÍ VÁLKA 0 comments

Since nearly three years that an uprising broke out in Syria (as a local materialization of the upheavals shaking the whole regions of Maghreb and Mashreq) most of the reactions, comments and critics from militant structures which claim to be revolutionary, internationalist, communist, anarchist… go in the same direction: doubts about what happens, doubts about essential material determinations that give birth to the movements that develop in front of our eyes, doubts about the class nature of these events, doubts about the potentially subversive content of struggles of our class when it doesn’t wave the “good” flags, etc. [Português] [Français] [Italiano]

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imageWhat do we think about the current crisis of Iraq? Jun 24 KAF 0 comments

The Iraq crisis has been continued for decades while it has been under the power of Saddam Hussein or under the “current democratic Regime” since the invasion of 2003. There were no freedom, no social justice; no equality and also little opportunity for those who were independent from the political parties who were in power. In addition to existing brutality and discrimination against women and the ordinary people a very big gap was created between the rich and poor, making the poor even poorer and the rich richer. [Italiano]

text6 days of protests to mark 40 years of occupation Jun 05 0 comments

For six days, June 5 to 10 - corresponding to the days of the 1967 War - a wide spectrum of events will take place, including exhibitions, demonstrations, theatre plays, academic conferences etc., in order to place a the occupation and the millions suffering under its yoke on the public agenda. June 9 and 10 had been declared as International Days of Protest Against the Israeli Occupation, and we will hold The main march and rally on Saturday, June 9.

textStatement on al-Badil article Sep 11 AL 0 comments

On 27th July 2006, Alternative Libertaire (France) distributed a text entitled "News from Lebanon: the Israeli attack" by our Lebanese comrades, Al-Badil al-Chouyouii al-Taharrouri (Libertarian Communist Alternative). This text denounced the Israeli war, Western plans for a Great Middle East, and criticized Hezbollah as a religious and reactionary organization.

textLebanon- The Smoke, Anguish and Terror of a Fascist Attack Sep 02 Grupo Qhispikay Llaqta, Perú 1 comments

The anarchists of Peru and the rest of the world oppose the fascist attacks of the Israeli State against the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. We refuse to follow reformist or reactionary positions that call for the formation of a new Palestinian state- a state that even if established could only survive subject to the mandates of American imperialism. Instead, we support and instigate the class struggle in the region as a means toward the eventual foundation of an Anarchist Federation, which in turn is the only way to secure a truly humane and dignified existence for the working class of these countries.

textOn the slaughter in the Middle East Aug 19 Anarkismo 19 comments

«Being slaves of God, the people owe to be, also, slaves of the Church and the State, insofar as the State has been blessed by the Church» Michael Bakounin

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