Coffee break with a Syrian resident: The brutality of Assad's regime

LATAKIA ( – He looks appropriate to be served. His posture is tall, white-skinned and blue-eyed. He has a very handsome face and seemly to be served by many attendants as . People usually called him “Jalal”. With a face full of smile, he served us well. He served his guests with excellent service. He working at a Hospital and he usually cook for us (volunteers).

“So, how long you didn’t meet with your wife and children?” I asked him in a morning coffee break. “Four months” he answered. Jalal has a wife and three children who now are left with his mother and father in Latakia. He could recognize the names of Bashar’s cousins. Their family couldn’t flee because there is no way to go. “So, what made you up here?” I asked. “I want to wage jihad to topple Nusairi tyranny..” said the former businessman. “But, why you are in the Hospital and don’t bear arms to the border?” I asked him a little rude. He explained that he had promised a weapon by some brigades to take part on this Jihad. But it’s been four months only promise and promises. He told that he ever joined with two brigades, but he didn’t accept the weapon. “Al-intidhar mafie quweisy…(waiting is unpleasant thing)” he said. “If anyone gives you a weapon, what will you do?” I asked. “I will go to the battle field for jihad as soon as possible” he said.

He also told about his smallest 3,5-years-old son, Ahmad. Once the boy take a razor. Jalal was surprised and asked him, “What for?”, “I will slaughter Bashar Assad” the little man replied. Jalal thought that was just a sporadic act. But the next day his son did the same thing. “So, children in here already know who is Bashar Assad since they were a kid” Jalal concluded. Jalal explained why such thing happened. “It’s because the Assad regime is brutal since a long ago” he said. Many Alawites used to live in the mountains and the beach. They live in across Lattakia, Thorthous, Jablah, Banyas and Kurdahah. Previously, they live in the outskirts, till the Assad’s family move them to the cities. The Assad’s family bought lands and sold them to the Alawites groups and some of the lands are seized from Sunnis lands. There is no punishment for Nusairi people, because they have impunity. 

Jalal, since he was a little boy neighbouring the cousins of Bashar Assad. He often experienced brutality. A 12 years-old nephew of Hafidz Assad, has showed off his arrogance by driving a jeep and hummer without a licence. For instance, once Alawites hit a resident, they have impunity. Nusairi community often kidnapped Muslim women and raped them. Again, the law doesn’t applicable for them. They are community who have “an exclusive” class in Lattakia, Jalal said, they are armed.

Insulting Islamic symbols is a common thing for Nusairi people. Sunni people who have 50 % population in Lattakia live in the ‘downstream.’ One time Sunnis shouting Takbeer and Nusairi people heard it. After some time, they have business to the upper region (Nusairi’s residence). In the checkpoint, Shabihah militia asked, “Why do ‘the dogs’ barking below..?” – They said that Takbeer is a barking dog.

There is a funny story from Latakia. Jalal said that one day in Latakia, there are a kindergarteners group on a bus. As it passed a checkpoint, a Nusairi commander came to the bus. The caretakers protested the commander and told him that the kids don’t know anything. But suddenly the commander shouted “Takbeer!” and then the innocent kids shouted “Allahu Akbar!!!” The commander said to the caretakers “enta mafie ma’luum..? (you didn’t understand? And yet said that they don’t know anything?)”. The Nusairi commander used “Takbeer” to judge if the person is dangerous or not.

“So, what he did with the kids?” I asked Jalal curiously. “They left to continue the journey..” he said. 

“Why do you silent with the cruelty?” I asked him again. “Because the regime is very authoritarian. You may ever heard about how Hafidz Assad in the city of Hama in the eighties? At that time, fourty thousands people have been killed. Total of Muslims who were killed at that time are around one hundred thousands. In our city, which is Assad’s hometown, in every 150 people there is one spy.  The walls seems can speaking. We live in worry and fear. Al-hamdulillah, today here’s a revolution. Hopefully this is an end for this regime,” he explained.

Jalal also told about intelligence operation in this revolution. In Latakia, there are many Muslim youth waging jihad to topple Bashar Assad, but they have no weapons. Once the youths got information about that there’s a weapon supply by someone as if defend the people. When they picked up the weapons, they were arrested by intelligence because of their names were already registered. This experience that make Jalal and his friends don’t want to take the risk.  He and his friends went to Latakia for jihad. Some of them walking for 12 hours without any heavy supplies. There are many people like Jalal. About few days ago, his childhood friend has been killed in this hill.

Abu Zahra, The fifth team of Indonesian Hilal Ahmar Society for Syria. (siraaj/


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