A Syrian man reacts after an air raid in Aleppo 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Syrian opposition activist Susan Ahmad, who lives in the northern suburbs of Damascus, says she has never left the country and does not plan to do so despite the difficult conditions.
“If everyone leaves, who will defend Syria?” she told The Jerusalem Post via Skype on Sunday. “It is our own country. It is our responsibility.”
Ahmad said her area remained under control of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The southern parts of Damascus have been under control of the Free Syrian Army. She added, however, that the area was under siege and people were dying from hunger, with smugglers at risk of being struck down by sniper fire.
Asked who was winning the war, she responded: “I don’t see that Assad has the advantage in the fighting. The West can say what they want; all they care about is their interests, and Syria learned that the hard way.”
Ahmad said that everyone knew about last summer’s chemical attacks, and also that the US had threatened to intervene, although at the end of the day nothing happened.
She embraced any help that the rebels could get.
“If al-Qaida will help us topple the regime, let it be,” she said.
She added that no one was worried that radicals would rule should Assad fall, since a new government would be chosen by the people in elections.
Asked about feelings toward Assad’s Alawite sect, she responded that she and others would “never forget or forgive. It is about justice.”
She noted that there used to be harmony with people of other religions, but now the Alawites “should be scared...their turn is going to come soon.”
With a BA degree in English literature, Ahmad said she had worked with various opposition organizations, where there was a lot of coordination and mixing of activists.
People were fleeing from war zones to the capital’s northern suburbs for refuge, she said, adding that she and other activists were trying to provide them with shelter.
There are not enough places so they have been using schools and public wedding halls.
Asked about the option of fleeing to neighboring countries, she said Lebanon’s humanitarian situation was worse and that refugees there were living in tents. They also lacked food and had no medical care.
Many displaced Syrians had left their homes with only their children and the clothes on their back, she said.
She added that Lebanon was not safe, saying Syrian refugees there were not being treated well, particularly by those who are pro-Hezbollah.
Only the rich can afford to move to a city and rent a proper apartment.
There were similar problems in Jordan, she said. Turkey was far away, but she called it the best option.
Ahmad said it was well known that some Syrians were being treated in Israeli hospitals.
“Israel used to be our enemy but is helping us on the human level while other friends are doing nothing,” she said.
She added, however, that Israel had given Assad’s planes permission to fly over certain areas of the Golan Heights in order to carry out bombing missions against the rebels. This information had been confirmed, she claimed.