Syria enclave marks uprising with message for Ukraine

Syrians lift flags during a rally marking 11 years since the start of an anti-regime uprising in Syria’s rebel enclave of Idlib on March 15, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
IDLIB, Syria — Thousands of protesters in war-torn Syria’s rebel enclave of Idlib on Tuesday marked 11 years since the start of an anti-government uprising, buoyed by the global outcry over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.اضافة اعلان

Gathered on the main square in the northwestern city of Idlib, more than 5,000 people took part in one of the largest rallies the beleaguered region has seen in months.

Many of the demonstrators hoped the war launched by the Syrian government’s main backer Russia in Ukraine would rekindle some interest in their cause.

“What is happening in Ukraine today is similar to the situation here; the enemy is the same and the goal is the same,” protester Radwan Atrash told AFP.

Thousands of demonstrators marked the date in other cities across rebel-held northern Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power held by a thread after a nationwide uprising that erupted on March 15, 2011 escalated into a fully-fledged civil war.

A decision by Russian president Vladimir Putin to throw his military might behind the Syrian government changed the course of the conflict and saved Assad’s hold on power.

The main killers in a war that has left half a million people dead is by some margin the government and its allies, who include Russian and Iranian forces, as well as a myriad of militia groups.

Around 4 million people, at least half of them displaced, now live in a region of northwestern Syria that is the last enclave fighting Assad’s rule despite years of deadly Russian-backed offensives.

A few Ukrainian flags were visible at the Idlib protest, as were banners expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people and demanding action against Putin.

A medic among the protesters at the city’s main roundabout had some advice for his counterparts in Ukraine.

“Fortify your hospitals with cement blocks; the enemy Putin does not distinguish between civilians, wounded people and fighters,” said Ali Hamoush, who works at an Idlib hospital.

Russia has repeatedly targeted medical facilities in Syria, according to witnesses, medics and human rights groups.

Syria’s economy has been battered by a decade of conflict and grueling sanctions.

Last week, the UN commission for inquiry on Syria has called for “a review of the implementation and impacts of sanctions currently imposed on Syria” due to deteriorating living conditions.

“It has been 11 years since the Syrian revolution started, but today it feels like the first day,” said protester Salwa Abdelrahman, 49.

“We forgot our wounds, the displacement, the killing and the arrests. We renewed our pledge to continue our revolution,” she said.

“My message to the Ukrainian people is ‘Don’t give up’. Eleven years have passed, but we are undaunted and, God willing, victory is ours.”

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