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During a Skype interview with Syria Witness, Abu Hadi identified himself as a former businessman who joined the protests in Syria at the beginning of the uprising in March of 2011. Abu Hadi is not his real name. He said he has become involved in the political realm of the movement to oust President Bashar al-Assad. He is purportedly a member of the Free Syrian Army Council of Damascus and Suburbs and participated in a meeting with Arab League and U.N. special envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi when the latter attempted to negotiate a ceasefire. His account cannot be independently confirmed. The conversations in the sound files below were conducted over the course of several recent weeks. Some quotes have been selected to highlight Abu Hadi’s account.

The Syrian government restricts independent reporting within the country. We invite Syrians on both sides of the conflict to tell the world how they cope with street violence, human tragedies, political chaos and economic loss in their daily lives. Syria Witness reports cannot be independently verified and, for personal safety reasons, some contributors do not use their real names. Texts are edited for reasons of clarity and style, but no changes to content are made.

When the government in Damascus claimed last month that car bombings that took place in the Syrian capital were perpetrated by terrorists, activists refuted the claim.

Among these activists was Abu Hadi. He  denied charges that explosions in the neighborhoods of Batuma and al-Tadamun were conducted by foreign fighters, jihadists or rebels. Hadi said the explosions were orchestrated by government forces to make residents living in Christian and Druze neighborhoods believe Sunnis were trying to kill them.

“This Assad regime is trying to destroy Syrian communities”

“Most of the minorities … they now realize that this government and this regime, this Assad regime is trying to destroy Syrian communities. And most of them, they know that… the Sunnis, in particular in Damascus, are not the ones who [are] doing these explosions in Damascus here and there. Because what is my benefit as a  Sunni Muslim to go and kill a Christian or bomb a car somewhere and kill children? We are against these kinds of terrorists completely; we are not welcoming any kind of terrorist [activities] in Syria.”

Listen to Abu Hadi talk about Damascus bombings (4:58)


My friend, the Christian plumber of Batuma

“There is a major street where most [residents] are Christians. And one of the people there, I know him very well. He was visiting me maybe a month ago and he told me clearly that some of the men of the government, of the security forces came to their houses and [offered them guns to that they could protect themselves] from the Sunnis. What do you think? They said, “No”. … This guy he is a plumber. He used to work for … my family … [as a] plumber. We [have known] him for almost 20 years … [At the wedding] of one of his daughters we actually gave them presents. The daughter [got]  married to a Christian.  He came to … thank us for the presents, you know. We [began] to discuss [issues of] the Christian and Muslim community and what’s happening now.”

Listen to Abu Hadi talk about the Batuma and al-Tadamun explosions (6:57)


Just give the Free Syrian Army rockets

“I think the international community has to stop this nonsense [with] this government and they have to put them in a corner…. What we need from them is just support with arms. Not [regular] arms. We are using guns and bullets ourselves. We need rockets. If they help us with [these], we can we can make the regime fall in few weeks, by the grace of God. We can [create] the no-fly zone area [over] Damascus ourselves. … If you look at the northern parts of Syria, in some parts of Syria, we have now isolation areas (presumably rebel-controlled areas) [created] by the Free Syrian Army, not by the international community or by the Friends of Syria. We made [them] ourselves.”

Listen to Abu Hadi talk about what Syrians can do by themselves (2:51)


An activists from ‘day one’

“I [have been] an activist since the beginning of this revolution… I supported the demonstrators with money and with media, and sent videos [for upload] to YouTube and to some media [outlets] like Al Jazeera, like Al Arabiya, like Alhurra, like BBC News…. I sent these videos to show that we are demonstrating peacefully…. You know, the government any time they see us demonstrating, they come and kill us with guns, you know.… I am not involved in [the fighting], actually. I am involved political[ly]. I can’t manage [the fighters]. I can tell them [what] is … right and [what] is … wrong. I can just give them advice. I am involved in a lot of activities on the ground.”

Listen to Abu Hadi talk about his arrest and torture (4:34)


To become a Syria Witness and tell your own inside-Syria story, contact David Arnold, coordinator of our Syria Witness project at syriawitness(at)gmail.com. For safety reasons, we strongly urge you to use a browser-based e-mail (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail) and be sure “https” appears in the URL. You can also invite Arnold to Skype at davidarnold70.

David Arnold

David Arnold coordinates the Syria Witness project at Middle East Voices and reports on Middle East and North Africa affairs for both Voice of America and MEV. The Syria Witness project publishes on-the-ground citizen reporting, giving Syrians the opportunity to offer to a global audience their first-person narratives of life on the streets of their war-torn country.

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