Civil defense help a man from a shelter in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 22, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS/BASSAM KHABIEH)
Abdollah Awad, a resident of Idlib and an activist with a humanitarian aid organization, described the situation on the ground in the rebel-held Syrian city on the eve of the American, British and French missile strikes Saturday.
“We are looking forward to a Western-American attack,” Awad said in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post. “Anyone who sees the refugees from eastern Ghouta who arrived in Idlib over the past several days has to think this way.
“This is despite the fact that strikes will be about as effective as operating on a corpse.”
The city of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region of Syria was the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime on April 7.
“It has been twenty days since we began hosting the refugee families. Over the past five days we have been hosting the residents of eastern Ghouta. All those who have arrived have been put in a closed camp where there are only medical personnel,” Awad added. “At this stage we cannot say for sure whether they were attacked with chemical weapons or not. The camp is closed to everyone aside from the medical staff.”
According to Awad, the majority of the Syrian people are looking forward to the downfall of the Assad regime, especially in light of the barbaric attack on Ghouta a few days ago.
“Most Syrian citizens are opposed to the regime and see that everything that has occurred is part of a regional game, arranged by Russia, even though Moscow said that it opposes the attack. The United States and the European countries will attack the regime, Iranian targets and Hezbollah – and they will achieve their goals. Look, everyone knows that Russia, too, is not interested in Iran having a hold on Syria. Even when they struck the Iranian convoy that was preventing the residents of Aleppo from leaving, and said afterwards that it was an accident, we all know that it was not an accident and the strike on the Iranian military convoy was intentional.”
Awad emphasized that “the Iranians are not interested in helping Sunnis. That is clear. They want Damascus and eastern Ghouta to be for Shi’ites only, so that they can maintain their control over President Bashar al-Assad. They stole the buses that were carrying the Sunni citizens, attacked aid convoys to Christians, and that bothers the Russians themselves, and that is why we are betting that there will be an attack and it will be coordinated with Russia."How does the Syrian opposition respond to the international reports that Israel struck regime targets in Syria, as well as Iran and Hezbollah targets?
“We are happy for it. On the basis of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ You have to understand that the Assad regime is a sadistic regime. You have to come to Idblib and see with you own eyes the situation of the evacuees and to hear their stories. The people deeply hate the regime, Iran and Hezbollah. I’m sorry to say that Kamal al-Labwani, who visited Israel, told us that the Israelis are not interested in toppling Assad because he is the best person for protecting the northern border. Now Iran is also entering the picture, and we know that Israel is not interested in their having a grip on Syria.”
Perhaps Assad is cunning enough to cozy up to Iran only in order to survive?
“Assad is Iran’s man in Syria. He is much closer to the Iranians than his father Hafez. The Iranian grip on Syria only gets bigger, and they have no problem with the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis, bringing Shi’ites in their place, and all this so that Damascus and its suburbs can have a Sunni majority.”
In the wake of the US, British and French strikes, Mohamad Alloush, political chief of the Jaish al-Islam faction that had controlled Douma, said that the Western missile strikes on Saturday would not be enough.
"As long as this regime and its security agencies exist, the chemical [attacks] will continue because there is safety from the consequences that would end it," he said. "And [Assad] is portraying what happened as a victory."