Syria Daily: Swap Deal for Removals Near Damascus and in Northwest

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A bus of fighters and civilians leaves regime enclave in Idlib Province, Syria, in a photo published by State news agency SANA, May 1, 2018

A deal pointing to partition?


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The Assad regime and rebels have reached a swap deal, in which rebel fighters and families will leave an area south of Damascus while pro-Assad fighters and civilians will leave a regime enclave in opposition-held Idlib Province.

The agreement, brokered by Russia, was confirmed to cover Yalda, Babila, and Beit Sahm, which have been under the control of the Free Syrian Army.

Amid a two-week pro-Assad offensive trying to clear the Islamic State and the jihadist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham from Yarmouk camp and al-Hajar al-Aswad, just to the west of the rebel territory. While the attacks — including intense airstrikes — had chipped away at the ISIS and jihadist positions, they had failed to overrun the area.

Earlier this week a deal was reached for HTS fighters and families to leave for northwest Syria, isolating ISIS for a further pro-Assad assault.

Meanwhile, the latest deal could begin to resolve the position of the regime enclave of al-Fu’ah and Kafraya, surrounded since rebels took almost all of Idlib Province in spring 2015. About 1,500 pro-Assad militia and their family members are leaving, while about 80 civilians abducted by HTS are being released.

It was unclear if the removals in Idlib were a capitulation of the enclave. Some claims said that, while some pro-Assad militias were departing, others had refused to go.

A takeover of al-Fu’ah and Kafraya by rebels could reinforce a de facto partition of Syria, in which the opposition and Turkish forces hold much of the northwest — despite the Assad regime’s proclamation that it will recapture all of the country.

Mattar Ismael, a journalist based in southern Damascus, said of the departures from southern Damascus, “The majority of civilians will go to Idlib and Jarablus in northern Syria, a small group chose to go to Daraa in the south, and there are a number of civilians who refused to leave.”

He said that thousands of civilians still live in Yalda, Babila, and Beit Sahm, and that about 400 civilians are still in Yarmouk, even though 3,500 have fled in the past week.

Before the Syrian uprising, Yarmouk was home to more than 200,000 people, most of them displaced Palestinians.


Russians Flatten Another Hospital in Northern Hama Province

Russian warplanes have destroyed another hospital, this time in Kafrzita in northern Hama Province.

The building was damaged a year ago when a bomb struck a nearby mosque.

Russian and regime aircraft have been bombing northern Hama and northern Homs Provinces in the hopes of forcing surrender agreements.

See Syria Daily, May 1: Pro-Assad Forces Bombard Northern Homs Pocket

The pro-Assad forces are also reportedly dropping munitions on farmland to burn crops.

Today’s strikes were about 10 km from a Turkish observation post near Morek, part of a ring of posts hoping to establish a zone protected from pro-Assad ground assaults.


Report: Rebels Giving Kurdish Homes in Afrin to East Ghouta’s Displaced

Civilian and military sources say the Free Syrian Army is giving the homes of Kurdish families, displaced by the Turkish-rebel offensive that took much of the Afrin canton in northwest Syria, to people displaced from East Ghouta near Damascus.

Khalid al-Hassan, pushed out by the two-month pro-Assad offensive that seized East Ghouta, arrived in Afrin in early April. He said he turned down the FSA offer of a house: “We are displaced from our homes, and are coming as guests to this region. We are not accepting these houses for free without the permission of their owners.”

But sources in Afrin said “dozens” of other East Ghouta families have moved into the vacant homes.

A Kurdish commander in the FSA, confirmed the accounts: “We, the Kurdish component [in the FSA], are trying to work against this with all our energy. But we are in the minority.”

More than 137,000 residents of Afrin were displaced by the offensive that began on January 20.

Journalist Muhammad Balou, who now lives in Iraqi Kurdistan, said he was told last week that a family from East Ghouta moved into his residence: “I worked many years to buy my apartment in Afrin, and even took out a loan. Now people have entered and begun living there. By what law, I don’t know.”

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19 COMMENTS

    • North Korea also extols its racial purity. Doesn’t stop tankies from defending them at every turn.

      That said, I wouldn’t call Assad “fascist”. Authoritarian yes, but fascism’s defining characteristics – the vitalist, statolatrist, and hyper-masculinist philosophy that seeks to transform both the organic state-society as revolutionaries and man as idealists – are missing in Syria. Fascism is pretty much dead nowadays, even on the far-right where commonality often doesn’t run much deeper than symbolism. Other breeds of authoritarianism are their own thing.

      • To right wing crazies, everyone is a Hitler/Nazi. It plays well with the lizard brain which is always in search of a boogey man.

        Saddam was Hitler. Putin is Hitler. Assad is Hitler. Ali Khamenei is Hitler.

      • The Baathist party of Assad espoused a great deal of Arab fascist ideology and was associated with the Syrian nationalist socialist party.

      • ‘Fascist’ as used today is a vernacular for dictatorship and totalitarianism. It is not about Mussolini or even Hitlerian fascism. The reference to Nazism was for effect as many readers today have no idea what fascism is and hence the scareword Nazi.

        • I figured as much. But still, I’d avoid it. Aside from the confusion it causes about fascism’s original meaning, it also helps the left-wing narrative that fascism is this omnipresent threat lurking around every corner by legitimizing the broad usage of the term. That’s just my two cents.

          • So how would you describe the Assad regime. It is not a communist regime. “national socialist” maybe? Baathist would not cut, as few people know what that is, and it has lost its relevance. There has to be a way to label the regime in a concise and popularly understood manner.

            • My choice would be Syrian Ba’athist. It’s unique enough to warrant its own name, IMO. But if the purpose is for the average Joe to get an idea of its concepts, that greatly limits what you can use. National socialist wouldn’t even be that bad if not for the permanent association with the German brand of fascism infused with racial ideology. Joe who has never heard of Ba’ath before might think Syria upholds racial laws.

          • I am not sure if I agree. You have seen how the Left has appropriated the term “liberal” for itself (this while free markets is one of the two pillars of liberalism), and hence forcing conservatives (who are liberal-right) to denounce liberalism, and thus pushing themselves more to the right, in the perception scales. That was a linguistic coup by the Left. Europeans do not conflate the Left with liberalism – but in north America, that is a major area of perennial and regrettable confusion. So I don’t think precision is so central in normal everyday political discourse. Regarding the neo-Left’s strawman of fascism, it actually raises the question that if they are so, why is it that they never attack Assad. And even display Assad (fascist) flag with their own flag. So I think it works against them.

  1. During World War II, Syria was ruled by the Vichy French, and German Nazis were frequent visitors. Hitler was very anxious to get the Arabs on his side.

    Many of the ideas of the Baath party date from those times.

    Tundra is thinking that Fascism is right wing. German and Italian Fascism were left wing. They are very close to Communism — hence the mutual hostility.

    • 1. Correct, but irrelevant.

      2. Which, specifically? Be sure to filter out those that can be found in other authoritarian and totalitarian systems.

      3. No I don’t.

      “They are very close to Communism”

      In that they’re both authoritarian and collectivist in somewhat varying degrees. There are still a number of characteristics that set the horseshoe apart enough for us to differentiate the two.

        • Depends on a person’s ideological lens. If you oppose both due to their shared undemocratic & authoritarian principles, you focus on that. Everything else seems minuscule, irrelevant detail. After all, none let you have a say in the running of the state, both demand complete conformism, etc.

          But Don’s assertion that their mutually hostility exists because they’re so similar is naïve. If I were a fascist true believer, I cannot imagine *not* having issues with Marxism’s materialist focus, aggressive pursuit for gender equality, and internationalism. These would be irremediable differences to be fought against tooth and nail, and as much of an ideological divide as that between fascism and liberal democracy.

          • I also think that the conflict between the two poles is less related to rivalry or competition but to irreconcilable differences. However, I believe we can safely put aside differences between the two regarding social or cultural matters as symbolic or not so relevant. After all, no two groups went to war with each other on the question of abortion or how gays should be treated. We should limit the comparison between the two to political and economic matters. Then they become a lot closer than at first glance.

            Regarding materialism – as you know, the neo-Left has moved away from its dialectical materialism roots and has wholeheartedly adopted a cultural dimension to their philosophy and no longer consider themselves classical materialists. This brings them closer to the fascists. Neither were fascists oblivious to the forces of materialism, and considered that a bedrock of their program.

            On internationalism vs. nationalism, there may be a stronger case. But the speed in which Bolshevism descended into “socialism in one country” should make us question the commitment of the far-Left to internationalism. It seems to be simply an idealistic mantra used nowadays just to attack the US or western presence in the world. The neo-Left is actually anti-globalist in reality and attacks multinationals for exploiting cheap labour.

            On racism, you find a stronger divide. The Left’s anti-racism is not so much to eradicate inequality or discrimination or to pull the blacks up, but to use that as a tool to bash existing institutions and implement compensation programs in order to attract more cannon fodder. Leftwing anti-semitism and anti-asianism (in the US) indicates that equality is far off their minds and for the Left, race baiting is just a power play which brings them uncritical backing by 30% of the population, without addressing the black-white divide meaningfully and positively.

            • “…between the two to political and economic matters. Then they become a lot closer than at first glance.”

              In that case, yes. But I wouldn’t dismiss the social and cultural dimension so lightly. Wouldn’t you say your own country today is indicative how much precedence they can take over everything else? You’ve got Trump on the right, and an increasingly progressive Democratic base – bemoaning their party’s neoliberalism – pushing it further to the left, especially on “social justice” issues.

              “Regarding materialism – as you know, the neo-Left has moved away from its dialectical materialism roots and has wholeheartedly adopted a cultural dimension to their philosophy and no longer consider themselves classical materialists.”

              True, but I consider them to be their own phenomenon. Have you ever wondered why the progressive ideology is found all over the US and Western Europe, but is practically non-existent in the East, or anywhere where the “old” Marxists reigned, including my own country?

              “But the speed in which Bolshevism descended into “socialism in one country” should make us question the commitment of the far-Left to internationalism. It seems to be simply an idealistic mantra used nowadays just to attack the US or western presence in the world. The neo-Left is actually anti-globalist in reality and attacks multinationals for exploiting cheap labour.”

              On one hand, on the other, they’re firmly in support of open borders, oppose national sovereignty, etc. Not sure if that could be classified “in one country.” And I wouldn’t say their that unified on the matter, either. The DSA types, sure. But most simply ignore if a “woke” trans-national corporation works some third-worlders to death in a sweat-shop abroad as long as they pay lip-service to their ideology, e.g. put rainbow filters on their social media profiles.

    • Tundra is thinking that Fascism is right wing. German and Italian Fascism were left wing.

      When it comes down to it, right and left wing meet up in the middle at the extremes. Look at the right wing in Israel. It is fascistic in many ways with the military and the state being a religion

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