Faris Shihab, 35, former Free Syrian Army officer, now in Turkey, tells The Guardian: I was an officer in a huge FSA brigade in Damascus. I fought in the Mouadamiya district of west Ghouta for a year with more than 3,500 armed fighters. We were only three kilometres away from the presidential palace in July 2012. The regime was on the verge of collapse.
But when the planes struck the centre of Damascus, we had to flee to Daraya, south-west of the capital, where we hid among the groves, laboriously digging trenches, waiting for the soldiers to advance forward.
My friend Ahmed Nadeem was with me in the trench when he got a bullet in his head from a sniper. He died in my arms, aged 22 years old. For nine hours, I was in the trench with his body during airstrikes and tank shelling. I kept looking at him while he was dead: the same guy who had been sharing food with me a few minutes earlier. We had been together since first demo in Damascus. The last words he said to me were: “Please remember me as a Syrian man who died for his country.” Only after midnight, when the shelling eased, could we bury him near an olive tree.
Later, the Syrian people began to turn against the FSA. When Isis began decapitations, people started to curse those who had revolted against the regime. They thought we were the reason that these radical fighters had come to our country. But we wanted to freedom, not Isis.
Some people now think that life was better before the revolution – but these are people who did not lose a sibling, or whose car was not blown up, or whose house was not levelled. When my relatives and friends sit together or watch the news, they say: “What a pity, we were really having a great life. It is true that we did not have dignity but we had enough food.”
Now, should I keep the revolution going for the sake of the martyrs and allow more people to die from starvation under the regime’s bombing? Should I compound the number of the dead? Or conciliate with the regime in hope that one day a child among these people will lead another Syrian revolution, because our revolution is cursed by God. [Continue reading…]