Guest post by DaveM
In the past few days the Syrian uprising has appeared to escalate, with intensive fighting and sectarian attacks taking place in Homs.
In addition the Free Syria Army has captured what it claims are members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Homs and has released a video showing this. The footage has been broadcast on the major Arabic news channels, and was the lead story on Al Arabiya’s news broadcasts on the evening of 26th January and the morning of the 27th.
The statement which precedes the confession reads as:
In the name of Allah the merciful and benevolent, we the Farouk brigade of the Free Syria Army are friends of the Iranian people.
We are not sectarian, we do not call for sectarianism and we are absolutely not against our Shia brothers.
We respect the supreme guide of the Iranian revolution Sayed Ali Khamenei and we appreciate him as a mujtahid, [but] fallible.
We call on him to frankly and unequivocally acknowledge the existence of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria to assist Assad’s regime in suppressing the Syrian people.
And we demand that all members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards leave Syria immediately.
After that [happens] we are prepared to release all the Iranian captives in our possession unconditionally and with no strings attached.
Enduring America has translated the captives’ confessions which are in Persian:
0:49 – 0:57 My name is Sajjad (Haider Ali) Aminan and I am a member of the revolutionary armed forces of Iran. I am leader of a five-member
0:57 – 1:04 special team. I entered Syria on October 16, 2011. The others entered Syria on different dates.
1:04 – 1:13 (What are your names?) Ahmad Sohrabi Gertabadi. Hasan Hasani. Majid Qanbari. Kyumars Qobadi.
1:13 – 1:26 My team and I entered Syria and supported the security intelligence forces of Syria in suppressing and shooting civilians.
1:26 – 1:39 After we were done with our daily activities, we would return from our ‘jobs’ to where we used to live.
1:39 – 1:48 We have killed many civilians in the city of Homs, including many women and children. We received our
1:48 – 1:59 orders directly from the airforce intelligence forces of the city of Homs. We have a request from
1:59 – 2:05 Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to take action in bringing back all
2:05 – 2:15 the Islamic republic forces who are in Syria and supporting the suppression of the Syrian people so we
2:15 could also come back to our homes.
Al Arabiya English has also translated it.
Iran’s news agency Mehr News claims the men in the clip are merely engineers
and the Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA is now claiming that 11 pilgrims have also been abducted.
What’s significant is that the increase in reports of Iranians having been captured has occurred after the visit of the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Jerusalem Corps, Gen. Qassem Suleimani, to Damascus where he and Assad discussed a “strategy to defeat foreign conspiracies.”
So these captured Iranians may be engineers and pilgrims who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I very much doubt it though.
If it is confirmed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are on the ground taking part in the killing of Syrian protesters, then it’s pretty much a given that Hizbullah is also involved. Suleimani practically admitted that they do what the IRGC tells them to do, though Hizbullah subsequently denied this and Iran’s ambassador in Lebanon claimed Suleimani was mistranslated.
Meanwhile in Homs there have also been reports of an escalation in sectarian killings, including one in which 14 members of a family, including children, were hacked to death in their home.
Al Jazeera’s news on 26th January led with the escalation in killings there and its report opened with some horrific footage of dead toddlers. (If you’re going to click on this link, be aware that it contains extremely disturbing footage.)
“Two days after the Syrian foreign minister’s announcement that the tightening of the security grip against those he described as “gangsters” is what the people demand, artillery from the regular Syrian army shelled the town of Homs. Then [as a result of this] six houses in the neighbourhoods of Rifai’i and Karm az Zeitoun collapsed on the families who were in them– men, women and children. Initial counts report that there have been tens of victims adding to the 25 who were killed in other places in just the first few hours of Thursday evening, while raids have continued in Syrian towns at the heart of the demonstrations.
“Hama, which recalls the memories of its major massacre which took place in 1982, is now tasting from Assad the son some of what it went through under Assad the father– shelling, raiding, arrests and snipers.
“The Syrian revolutionaries defiantly and determinedly facing the regime’s violence have come to find in the Free Syria Army their only hope in protecting and defending them. The presence of the Free Syria Army has reached the boroughs which lie on the outskirts of the capital. Here in Harasta and before that in Douma, they [the FSA] are moving around reassuringly, amidst the welcoming of the people, in a presence which confirms the reports which stated that Assad is gradually losing control over Syria’s regions.”
FSA Soldier 1: “Our Alawite brothers, we and the honourable Alawites are family, they are our family and our brothers.”
FSA Soldier 2: “We don’t want sectarianism.”
FSA Soldier 1: “Bashar Al Assad is carrying out sectarianism, he wants to slaughter them [?] …..” (speech not clear)
“The Syrian army loyal to the regime raided Douma and carried out arrests of the citizens. All of that taking place while the UN Security Council is preparing to discuss the Arab initiative on Monday while not knowing if it’s aquired Russia’s agreement. Russia which has announced that it will dispatch its own draft for what it claimed is a solution for Syria. But the opposition say it offers nothing except saving Assad.”
These events are going to continue and get ever more bloody and gruesome as the regime gets more and more desperate to cling to power. However at some point something’s got to give, and it doesn’t look as if the Syrian people are going to back down any time soon no matter what the cost to them.
But at the moment it appears that things will get a lot worse before they get better.