While the Syrian revolution has become increasingly sectarian and the fighting has often been dominated by Islamists, one brigade of the Free Syrian Army in Salamiya fights for a united and diverse Syria, and within the brigade multiple sects fight side by side.
The “Phalange Brigade of the Free Syrian Army” claims to fight for a democratic, civic state that unites and protects all Syrians under one slogan: "The Syrian People are One." This brigade, which is the dominant revolutionary force in Salamiya, is comprised of intellectual youth who believe that education and culture are revolutionary weapons. They envision a civic state, built on concepts of constructive criticism and spreading understanding between all of the Syrian sects. Even though Al Salamiya is the Middle Eastern cultural capitol of the Ismaili sect of Islam, the brigade prides itself on being non-sectarian and is comprised of Sunnis, Alawites, Ismailis, and others.
Like many in the Syrian revolution, the Phalange Brigade of the Free Syrian Army claims that they began their uprising using peaceful means. However, after the oppression and injustice that their city witnessed, they say that they have been forced to carry guns and join the armed resistance to Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. The men now wait for the regime’s bombing and shelling of their homes to end so they can resume their lives normally, and work on building a democratic Syria.
بعد ان اجتاح الفكر الطائفي الثورة السورية، ظهرت الكتائب الإسلامية لتكون الطاغية على الصفة الثورية في معظم المدن السورية. في مدينة السلمية التي تقع على بعد ثلاثين كيلومتراً إلى الشرق من مدينة حماه و التي تعتبر عاصمة الطائفة الاسماعيلية في سورية و الشرق الأوسط والتي شهدت حراكاً ثورياً كثيفاً على امتداد الثورة، تشكلت كتيبة للجيش الحر تطالب بدولة مدنية ديمقراطية تحمي الجميع تحت شعار الشعب السوري واحد. هي كتيبة مؤلفة من مجموعة من الشباب المثقفين من كافة الطوائف( سنة، علويين، و اسماعيليين)، يعتبرون الفكر و الثقافة سلاح، و لكن نتيجة القمع و الظلم الذي تعرضت له مدينتهم اضطروا لحمل السلاح لإيمانهم بأن الحل الوحيد لاسقاط النظام هو القتال المسلح. هؤلاء الشباب ينتظرون سقوط النظام ليعودوا إلى حياتهم الطبيعية، و ليعملوا على بناء سورية الديمقراطية، التعددية، المدنية عن طريق الفكر البناء و نشر التوعية بين جميع السوريين بكافة طوائفهم.
00:04 The movements in Salamiyah started peacefully
00:09 Like all syrian cities, it rebelled against oppression.
00:13 We started peacefully, until we started helping refugees who came from stricken areas.
00:20 security pressures increased on the activists, so they carried guns
00:33 Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, the regime accused protesters of sectarianism.
00:41 Al Salamiya replied to that accusation saying, one one one Syrian People are one. This was the case because, in Al Salamiya, people went out to the streets from all sects.
and the first sign that was raised in Salamiya was saying Sunnis+ Alawis+ Ismailis= National unity
01:03 This atmosphere of brotherhood has been transferred to this brigade in which there are soldiers from different sects. Tt's not a sectarian brigade, it's not Sunni, Alawi, or Ismaili.
01:25 we're suffering from the lack of support on all levels. On the military level, we don't have enough weapons and bullets, and also on the living level.
01:36 We're lacking support on all levels, but thank God we remain patient until we get rid of Bashar Al Assad.
01:48 Al Salamiya’ weapon, as it's knows through history, is Education and Knowledge.
01:55 But, because of the harsh oppression that it suffered from, the men had to carry guns.
02:00 They saw that this is only way to overthrow the regime.
02:12 But after the regime falls, God willing, we will drop our weapons and get back to the real weapon and the most important weapon which is the Knowledge and education in order to build a democratic Syria, a diverse Syria, a Syria for all people, a Syria for all sects, a country that competes with all other countries all over the world.
02:37 for sure, we're working in a direction where we're trying to take a step forward and cut roads to help other groups in the neighboring areas and our goal is to liberate Salamiya.
02:55 Hey guys, keep quiet.
Since the start of the Syrian clashes, a large number of Syrians have migrated to the city of Al Salmiya, which is located 30 kilometers to the west of the city of Hama. The city of Al Salmiya is considered the capital of the Ismaili sect and therefore is of large importance to Syria and the region.
In the wake of the explosion that targeted the headquarters of the People’s Committee at the end of January and the initial wave of refugees coming from both Hama and Homs, the security in Al Salmiya was tightened. This resulted in further unrest, including the abuse of the refugee population and the destruction of their housing.
00 :02 If we want to discuss the process of displacement to Salameyah, we have to dissect it into two different segments. The first is prior to the bombing that occurred two months ago in the city. The other segment discusses what happened post bombing.
00 :17 The city is hosting approximately 50,000 to 60,000 refugees. As a result, from the influx of refugees, the economy has flourished. The shopkeepers have benefited in a noticeable manner, trade volume has increased, and stores that are in key markets witnessed better work.
00 :35 The first major influx of refugees arrived in Al Salamiyah from Hama. Entire families moved to the area, most of them being women and children. The offensive on Homs brought another wave of refugees to Al Salamiyah larger than that, that came from Hama. After which, the bombing of the People's Committee occurred.
00 :51 The People’s Committee increased it security measures after the bomb detonation. Al Salamiya locals started going to the houses of the refugees, especially to tenants, and beat up some of the masses. They tortured the men and threatened their women and children. They claimed they want to beat and kill them. Furthermore, they shredded their rent contracts so that they no longer have alibis to stay, resulting in the refugees leaving the city of Al Salameyah due to fear and intimidation.
01 :17 The site of the bombings are these residential buildings and the headquarters of the people’s committee that was bombed. Also, this is the house of the head of the area.
01 :36 and this is the sign of the party again (inaudible)
01 :42 It was obvious that the refugees were kicked out due to, both, a security and military decision from the government. The tool to execute it was by the use of the thugs i.e the people’s committee. How ? By pressuring them, by attacking their homes and harassing them on the streets. They would take someones identification card and ask him, "you are from Homs. Whats brings you here?"
02 :00 My siblings were in Al Salamiya, so I moved to the area.
02 :06 I left Homs at the time that the big strike happened
02 : 12 In regards to the bombing that happened here in Al Salamiya, it instilled fear in people. We started hearing people say that they are going to kick us out and to be careful. As a result of that, we did not dare to go out even if we were short on bread. We were afraid to go out and buy bread.
02 :31 These are my kids, and there are my brother's children and the children of my other brother. We guided them to start working. My son who is in sixth grade is working for 100 Syrian pounds in order to finance himself.
02 :46 The refugees have nothing to do with this. We are sheltering women and children, they believed that we are sheltering the women and children of the men that are fighting outside.