March 9, 2016


How Syrian cease-fire has reignited spark of the revolution (Mohammed al-Khatieb, 3/09/16, Al Monitor)

[T]he demonstrators are back following the extendable two-week cease-fire agreement sponsored by the United States and Russia. Despite some violations, the number of airstrikes and the shelling in most regions has declined substantially, allowing for the return of the peaceful Syrian revolution.

At demonstrations in Aleppo and its countryside, Idlib, Daraa and the Ghouta area surrounding Damascus, protesters can be heard chanting, "The revolution continues." On March 4, protests were staged in 104 locations, a level of mobilization unheard of for some time now.

These days, the city of Aleppo is experiencing a calm it has not seen since the battle moved into its streets more than three years ago. There are no warplanes in the sky, and the sound of explosions that had became so familiar is no longer heard. Only the devastation and rubble remain to tell the story of the difficult days that befell this weary city.

Some 300,000 people remain in the Aleppo neighborhoods controlled by the opposition, about half of the city. In 2005, some 2.3 million people lived in Aleppo. Although most residents have been displaced by shelling and bombing by regime and Russian forces, the city has managed to muster several protests since the cease-fire began.

Al-Monitor attended a protest organized by activists in Aleppo's Bab al-Hadeed neighborhood March 4 and saw firsthand the protesters' enthusiasm, which recalled the early days of the revolution. Demonstrators raised the flag of the revolution as well as a large banner that read "Long live Syria and down with Assad."

On the sidelines of the protests, Shamel al-Ahmad, one of the organizers, told Al-Monitor, "I am overjoyed. ... We are protesting today just like we did back in 2011, but without bullets, and the security forces are not here to repress us." According to Ahmad, five years after the outbreak of the revolution, many Syrians have given up hope of the international community helping them achieve their demands. When asked about the reasons behind the demonstration, he said, "We came to confirm that our revolution is ongoing, no matter what happens. We are a resilient and determined people, and we will not back down from our demands: a free Syria for all Syrians and free of Assad and terrorism. Thousands of martyrs have fallen, which makes us more determined not to back off on our rightful and legitimate demands."

Posted by at March 9, 2016 4:12 PM