FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Untold Suffering in Foua and Kafarya: Two Northwestern Syrian Villages Under Siege and Assault by NATO’s Terrorists

Part One of Two

Infant Rimas Al-Nayef was one of at least 5 children killed by NATO-backed terrorists’ shelling on August 10, 2015 in the northwestern Syrian village of Foua. Another 25 residents were killed by the up to 1,500 rockets and mortars which Jebhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) and other terrorist factions rained down on Foua and neighbouring Kafarya village, just north of Idlib. Scores more were injured on that day alone. Yet, scarcely a peep in the corporate media, as massacres committed by western-backed “moderates” do not merit media coverage, do not suit the war agenda.

The attack was waged by a number of different factions, primarily al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Fattah (the so-called “Army of Conquest”), and Ahrar al-Sham (Liberation of the Levant Movement) along with other “moderates” of the umbrella organization Jabhat al-Islamiyah (the Islamic Front).

Crescent International reported: “The barrage of rockets has intensified; Western, Saudi and Turkish-supplied 500 kg rockets are fired at the villages accompanied by incursions with the clear aim to capture them.”

The villages, less than 10 km northeast of Idlib, had already been suffering an over 4 year long siege by al-Nusra and affiliates.

Until late March, residents—although surrounded by militant factions—still had an access road, thus supplies for their survival. With the militants’ occupation of Idlib at the end of March, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had to withdraw forces from bases in the province. Foua and Kafarya became utterly isolated.

Beirut-based justice activist Mariam Mohammad maintains contacts with people in the villages and follows the few Arab media channels and news sites (al-Mayadeen, al-Manar, as-Saffir) reporting on the desperate situation. On August 11 she wrote of the situation in the villages, where roughly 40,000 people are under siege:

“138 days of siege, with no water, electricity, communications, or medical & food supplies. And while the terrorists carry out almost daily rocket attacks against the residents, leaving tens of martyrs and wounded, the injured are many times left with no treatment.

During the last week of July 2015, The terrorists launched a unified attack on the two villages under what they entitled “The Battle of liberating Kafarya & Foua”, and ever since, the rocket attacks have become more frequent and aggressive.”

Indeed, Syrian journalist Alaa Ebrahim noted on July 21 [translated from Arabic] “Kafarya and Foua towns were shelled today with 450 rockets and projectiles, and the total number has reached 1,000 since the beginning of the assault. In spite of this, the defending local popular militias are preserving their positions and sometimes were advancing and making traps for the attackers. There are no Iranians or others among the defenders of Foua, but their attackers are from all sides of the planet.”

Mariam Mohammed wrote on August 11:

“Yesterday, in the most brutal attack yet launched by the terrorists against Kafarya & Foua since the beginning of the Syrian Crisis, the residents announced 22 civilian martyrs (mostly children) and dozens of wounded, with more than 1,500 shells hitting their neighbourhoods. A tunnel had been dug under the villagers and this was packed with 15T of explosives and detonated.

Finally, one of their suicide bombers strapped [explosives] to their body and blew themselves up injuring more innocent civilians.”

Saer Asleam, a Syrian journalist from Idlib, clarified who is defending the villages and the nature of Hezbollah support:

“The fighters in the towns of Kefraya and Foua are residents. There are an unknown number of Hezbollah members providing military advice on the ground.”

A personal friend—a resident of Kafarya studying in Beirut—has been sending updates from family under siege and attack. As I do not want to make his family targets for the terrorists, I will simply call him “K” after the village he is from.

“The SAA are unable to reach the area, it’s very remote, about 80 km from the edge of Hama Governorate. The only defense we have are the villagers. From the beginning, when the “FSA” and other militant groups attacked us, the people defended themselves by whatever means, with rifles. By 2012, people had acquired machine guns on their own, to defend themselves.

The villagers set up checkpoints. Every week the militants attacked, to see if the people were vulnerable. They fired rockets at the villages. At the beginning, it was only mortars, then they started using a larger size of mortar. Then, the militants started using cooking gas canisters as bombs, “hell cannons.”

They fire from Binnish, a few km south of al-Foua; from Ma’rat Mesreen, about 2 km to the north; and recently from the centre of Idlib they fired rockets to the village, about 8 km away.

But the people are still defending themselves however they can. You can see from the latest martyrs: one is a teacher, another is a university student, another an engineer, another is sheikh…they were all defending their town when killed.”

STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE?

According to Saer Asleam: “Ahrar Al-Sham is trying to lessen the pressure on its fighters in al-Zabadani by strangling the inhabitants of Kafarya and Foua. This is being done by targeting them with hundreds of missiles, and by direct attacks using tanks and armored vehicles. Al-Nusra is also participating through suicide attacks and bombed cars. But all these attacks haven’t worked out to achieve any breakthrough to get in the two villages thanks to the resistance by the locals of the two villages who have formed popular committees.”

In his report “A Safe Zone in Syria… for terrorists!” Iyad Khuder noted that Jaysh al-Fattah has the direct support of both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and that one of its leaders is a Saudi: Abdallah Al-Mhesni, who vows to exterminate Alawis in his “liberating” of Syrian areas. Further, these “moderates”, Khuder noted, dedicated their success in Idlib to “Muslims worldwide and our brothers in the Islamic State.”

Khuder remarked “In their speech, they refer to the Kafarya residents as ‘occupiers’ of the village, with statements like, ‘These two villages are settlements.’ They make a comparison to Zionist colonists in occupied Palestine! This is part of the greater ploy to divide Muslims and to distract them from the Palestinian cause.”

BREAKING THE CEASE-FIRE, ZIONIST-STYLE:

As Israel has repeatedly done in the past, NATO-backed militants broke an August 12 truce (just two hours after its announcement) meant to last for 48 hours, shelling Kafarya and Foua, killing 3 civilians and wounding more.

In one of the only reports in corporate media deigning to mention the isolated villages, Reuters noted on August 12 (Kefarya and Foua mentioned almost as though an afterthought):

“A ceasefire began at 6 a.m. today for 48 hours to halt military operations in Zabadani,’ Hezbollah’s al-Manar reported. ‘It also includes the two villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in the Idlib countryside.’”

On August 14, Al Masdar News updated on the fight in al-Zabadani, a district roughly 45 km northwest of Damascus and close to the Lebanese border.

“For the last 38 days, Al-Zabadani has been under siege by the Syrian Arab Army’s 63rd Brigade of the prestigious 4th Mechanized Division and Hezbollah; this has left the Islamist rebels from Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” in a difficult predicament, with very few choices.

During the first days of this offensive at Al-Zabadani, Hezbollah and the Syrian Armed Forces gave the Islamist rebels two options:either put down their weapons and surrender or prepare to fight until the last man. …Yesterday, 40 Islamist rebel fighters surrendered themselves to the Syrian Armed Forces and Hezbollah inside Al-Zabadani; however, more than 300 militants remain entrenched inside the Mahata District.”

Mariam Mohammad noted on August 13 that sources from inside Kafarya and Foua reported:

“Throughout yesterday the neighborhoods witnessed sporadic shelling by the terrorists after three civilians were killed in the morning attack. They said: ‘Two shells hit the neighbourhood in the afternoon, and streams of gunfire were heard from the side of “Ma’rat Mesreen”, and later at night when we were having dinner, we had to seek refuge in one of the bathrooms again due to the attacks.’ There are no shelters inside the two villages.”

On the attempts at negotiating a cease-fire deal, K observed:

“Turkey is able to unify the groups. Before the big attack on Idlib last March, they unified many groups to form Jaysh al-Fattah. So if you want a real truce, you should contact their master.”

Syrian journalist Iyad Khuder likewise noted: “The Turkish and Saudi role in enforcing this truce proves, once again, their command over the terrorist groups that the MSM has been calling ‘Syrian rebels’!”

On August 15, Mariam Mohammad updated on the situation in the two northwestern villages:

“Ahrar Al- Sham has officially announced the collapse of negotiations with the Iranians regarding the Kafarya & Foua/ Zabadani Deal, and thus the terrorist factions besieging the two villages in Idlib have resumed shelling the neighborhoods. Sources from Kafarya reported about collisions between the armed militias and the men assigned to protect the villages, and emphasized that the shelling is fierce and and continuous.”

K further noted that there are two new martyrs, “Fadi Assad and his daughter Rimas.”

Mariam Mohammad’s August 16 report read:

“Official news reported fierce collisions in a massive attack carried out by the terrorist factions against Kafarya and Foua using heavy artillery this morning. A previous attack was launched Saturday night (15 August) and was resumed Sunday early morning, and sources reported that the shelling lasted throughout the entire night.” [Note in this video of August 15 attacks, the very inaccurate gas canister “hell cannons”can be seen being fired.]

According to Mohammad, four more from the villages were killed in the terror attacks today.

As of Monday August 17, Mariam Mohammad’s latest update noted: “According to a Foua resident on Sunday night, the number of shells fired at the two villages in the past 48 hours since the truce collapsed is 2,500, killing 10 more residents, including two children, and wounding 40 more.” This brings the number of martyred to at least 41 since the last week of July, and at least 130 since the end of March.

 

 

More articles by:

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. Follow her work on her blog ingaza.wordpress.com.

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail