'Liberated' Syrians look to tribal councils

2012-07-25 13:43
AP

AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Binesh - In Syrian towns, villages and provinces "liberated" from government control, residents are experiencing new rule - with tribal or revolutionary councils led by military and political chiefs taking over.

The city of Binesh, in the northwestern province of Idlib, has been "free" for nine months, but like many of their compatriots, the city's 45 000 residents suffer food, water, fuel and medicine shortages, as well as electricity outages.

In the past 16 months, the uprising against President Bashar Assad has become increasingly bloody, as his troops wage a campaign of repression against rebels who have taken up arms against the government.

The conflict has thrown the country into an economic crisis, but "there is no famine, we help each other", says 43-year-old Abu Obeid, a local activist.

In a bid to keep the town going, its men have elected "a revolutionary council of around 100 members", says 25-year-old Wassim, a former student who now publishes a bimonthly local newsletter.

In the course of a week spent in the provinces of Aleppo in the north, Idlib in the northwest and central Hamas, AFP found numerous towns that have established similar bodies.

Consultations

Most often the residents are now under the rule of a "revolutionary council", headed by a military chief and a political chief.

In a street in Karnaz, a town of 22 000 near to Hama, military chief Taysir Shaaban and his civilian counterpart Aderrazek al-Hamdu are in constant consultations about the problems of the day.

"I've put guards everywhere to prevent another massacre like the one that happened in Treimsa," Shaaban tells his colleague, referring to a regime attack on a small village that reportedly killed at least 150 people on 12 July.

"When we pushed out the regime, we took over. It's gone well since then," says Hamdu, a doctor whose face betrays his exhaustion.

"But we don't have medicine or money. How can we treat the wounded?"

Government forces generally still control hospitals in cities across the country, placing wounded fighters seeking care at the institutions at risk of arrest, or worse.

Running water


Instead, opposition forces have set up improvised hospitals in anonymous homes with whatever equipment they can find. Essentials are often in short supply or completely impossible to come by.

Bread is also in short supply, forcing dramatic measures to ensure no one goes hungry.

"Every family has the right to a ration calculated on the basis of the number of family members," grumbles a local man who gives his name as Abu Nasser.

The town faces the same problem when it comes to running water, made all the more problematic by the searing heat of the Syrian summer.

"We store it up in old tanks because the regime would cut it for days at a time. We always have to boil it," Abu Nasser says.

When it comes to electricity, residents say it comes and goes every three hours.

Rocket fire

In Jebel Shashabu, the Sunni villages that cling to the arid mountains around Hama have a "revolutionary council" that deals exclusively with military action.

Civil affairs are handled by a tribal council. At the beginning of the week, around 30 local sheikhs wearing white or grey robes met to discuss power outages, schools, punishing criminals, the rationing of bread.

"There are representatives from the big Sunni tribes, Bani Khaled, Wissat, Naim, Mawai, Smati," one sheikh says.

The discussion continues late into the night, with the leaders smoking hundreds of cigarettes and drinking litres of hot tea as they talk.

In the night air outside, every half hour or so, the Syrian army stationed nearby fires rockets into the mountain, seemingly at random.

Read more on:    bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.