The Syrian Army is the People’s Army, not Assad’s Army

Syrian, People, Flag
Syrian, People, Flag

Every time I watch western media talk about Syria, all I hear is either blatant lies or propaganda, clearly meant to slant your viewpoint and make you form incorrect opinions about the Syrian government. The media also completely ignores the truth about what the majority of the Syrian people want—which is to keep their present system of government. But the media has you believing the government isn’t a government for the people. And that is a lie.

Phrases like: Regime forces, Assad’s Regime, Assad’s Government, Pro-government paramilitary, Assad’s Army—are all used to trick you into forming a biased opinion—to make you think that the people aren’t actively involved in government, and worse, those phrases make you totally unaware that the Syrian Army is made up of every sector of Syrian society. The Army includes men, women, Christians, Druze, Turkmen, Kurd, Armenian, to only name a few sectors of society that make up the members of the Army. How could it be “Assad’s army”, or “regime forces” when it is a people’s army that represents all of Syrian society?

And what do all of these diverse sectors of Syrian society, who are members of the Syrian Army, have in common? They do not want Syria to fall to Islamists—whether ISIS or the US-backed Islamist groups. ISIS and all of the “rebel” or “moderate” Islamist groups want an Islamic Law state of Syria. The Syrian people do not want an Islamic Law government—so they join the army to fight the Islamist takeover of Syria.

The numbers of volunteers in the National Defense Forces have been growing in enormous numbers during last three years. I repeat: Volunteers. So again, how can it be “Assad’s Army” or “Regime Forces” when these Syrians, from all sectors of society, volunteer to defend their country from Islamists?

Most Syrians who have been displaced by Islamist attacks have NOT fled the country—they are NOT refugees. The majority of displaced Syrians have moved to the parts of Syria that are under army protection—that’s right—they go to Syrian Army controlled areas inside Syria. Syrians support their army and the army supports and protects its people.

And how can the government be “Assad’s government” or a “Regime government” when every single sector of society has formed or belongs to a political party or political organization which participates in government and parliament.

The only banned political parties are Hizbut al-Tahrir (a very violent group who demands an Islamic Law state and Caliphate); and, the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria (a very violent group who demands an Islamic Law state and Caliphate). Both groups have proven to be violent-based, and have a history of violence in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and other Muslim majority countries where they’ve formed political parties. Both groups are against democracy and equality and both groups have a history of attempting to overthrow governments in order to implement Islamic Law. All other political parties are allowed in Syria and are involved in government.

Attached is a link to a webpage that will give you truthful information about the Syrian people, their diversity, their political parties and the history of those parties, and what those parties stand for. It includes descriptions and history of who exactly participates in the armed forces and why they are not “Assad’s Army”. It also gives important excerpts from Syria’s constitution—which is completely based on freedoms and defending those freedoms.

There is a lot of information on the webpage, including photos depicting Syria’s cultural and religious diversity, photos showing you the faces of Syria’s army members and more. If you don’t have a device that allows you to see the full webpage and photos, I hope you can at some point visit the webpage on a device that does. Photos tell a wonderful story in itself.

Meanwhile, here is a summary of the first half of the webpage. The second half will come in another post.

Part One:
One reason for Syria’s diversity is her long history of accepting refugees misplaced by war or religious persecution.

100,000 Circassian refugees were welcomed in Syria in 1839

400,000 Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks, who fled the Ottoman Empire’s atrocities on Christians, were welcomed in Syria between 1915 and 1923

500,000 Palestinians who fled Israel after creation of the Israeli state in 1948 were welcomed in Syria

200,000 Kurds fleeing the conflicts in Turkey during World War I, then various conflicts in Turkey since 1978, and also those who fled Iraq in 2003 after the U.S. invasion–were welcomed in Syria

1,200,000 Iraqis were welcomed in Syria after the U.S. invasion of 2003

100,000 Lebanese were welcomed in Syria during the Lebanon – Israel war in 2006

150,000 Kuwaitis were welcomed in Syria during the 1990 Gulf War

Syria’s population is approximately 2,860,400. Though a little more than half the population is Sunni Muslim, Syria’s remaining religious population is diverse.

Syrians are Jewish, Yazidi, Druze, Islmaili, Alewite, Shi’a and several various denominations of Christianity: Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Chaldean, Nestorian, Armenian, Protestant, Latin Catholic, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, and Greek Catholics.

The populations of Syria’s rich religious diversity:

Sunni Muslims 1,900,000

Christians 450,000

Alewite 325,300

Yazidi, Druze, Ismailis, Shi’a 155,100

Jews 30,000

Possibly the oldest culture in Syria is the Assyrian culture—and the Assyrian people continue to exist to this day:

Assyrians can trace their roots in Syria to about 6,500 years ago. They are some of the earliest people to convert to Christianity. The first century apostles Thomas, Thaddeus and Bartholomew are among the founders of the Eastern Churches, to whom most Assyrians belong to.

The people of many of the oldest Christian villages in Syria are Assyrians, who continue to speak the ancient language of Aramaic–the language of Jesus. These are the only people on the planet to speak the language of Jesus.

Thanks to Islamists, who want to eliminate Christianity in Syria, their numbers have plunged from 1.4 million to an estimated 400,000

Eden Naby, an expert on Assyrian culture recently said: “Assyrians remain the last Aramaic-speaking people of the world. So the disappearance of these people pretty much spells the closing chapter of Aramaic.”

ISIS and various foreign “rebel” groups have been attacking Christian villages since 2012, often committing horrific atrocities and completely demolishing the ancient churches and other artifacts inside the Christian villages. Habib Afram, head of the Syriac League, which represents Assyrian issues, said this about the atrocities Islamist terrorists are committing:

“They don’t want to just take your land or kick you out of your villages; they want to erase your past, your cultural heritage.”

Besides Assyrians, Syria has an enormous population of Armenians:

Armenian Christians have a long history in Aleppo, dating back to the 11th Century A.D. when the Turks captured Byzantine-controlled Armenia and created a diaspora of Armenians from their ancestral homeland. Another large diaspora to Syria followed the Armenian Genocide of 1915, in which hundreds of thousands of Armenians fled into northern Syria and settled into the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, al-Hasakeh, al-Raqqa, Latakia, and Homs.

The largest community of Armenians in the entire Middle East resides in the city of Aleppo. And even though the founding of present day Armenia occurred in 1918, they choose to remain in Syria.

Syrian Armenians have a long history in the Syrian Army. Tens of thousands of Armenians have served on the frontlines of every 20th Century Syrian war. Since the beginning of the current Syrian war in 2011, the Syrian Armenian community has remained loyal to the Syrian Army and to Syria. They have served on the frontlines of every major battle against the Syrian Opposition forces.

When Aleppo came under attack by the US-backed Islamist rebel group “Free Syrian Army” in the summer of 2012, the Syrian-Armenians took up arms to protect their districts inside the city of Aleppo. Without the Syrian-Armenians in Aleppo, the Islamist rebels would have overrun the historical districts of the provincial capital.

In early 2014, the Syrian National Army’s Central Command formed the civilian-led “National Defense Forces” (NDF) to protect areas where the Syrian Army is absent. Within a few weeks, the NDF was flooded with recruits from all over Syria, and from all factions of society.

After al-Qaeda in Syria (aka al-Nusra), the Free Syrian Army, and Harakat Ahrar al-Sham’s attack on the town of Kassab, a town consisting of a majority of Armenians, the National Defense Forces (NDF) received an enormous gain of over 17,000 Armenian volunteers from the city of Aleppo.

The Battle for Kassab

When the Syrian National Army recaptured the town of Kassab in late 2014, they were assisted by hundreds of Syrian-Armenian NDF volunteers from Aleppo, who thought of the battle for Kassab as an absolute necessity against the Islamists terrorists who were causing another diaspora from what they now consider their homeland–Syria.

Defending Aleppo

Together with the Palestinians of the Nayrab Refugee Camp, the al-Ba’ath Brigades, National Defense Forces, and the Syrian National Army, the Syrian-Armenians have worked inside Aleppo City to defend the provincial capital from a take over by Islamist rebel groups who want to enforce Islamic Law on Syria.

In June of 2015, the newly formed Islamic Coalition of al-Qaeda groups, called “Ansar al-Halab”, launched a large-scale offensive in west and north Aleppo, capturing territory in the al-Rashideen District after intense fighting with the Syrian Army that lasted many days.

Thanks to the Syrian-Armenian National Defense Force soldiers, the Islamist rebels were unable to advance at the al-Khalidiyah, al-Azizah, and Suleimaniyeh districts. The Syrian-Armenian NDF soldiers absolutely refused to lose even an inch of ground to the al-Qaeda forces.

The Syrian-Armenians of Aleppo named the Islamist fighters the “Ottoman terrorists”, and this encouraged their people to defend their land from the same forces that conducted the massive genocide of their people in 1915. It was Islamists who committed the Genocide of their people in Turkey. To this day, Aleppo has not completely fallen to the various Islamist groups that attack Aleppo daily–partly due to the fierceness of the Syrian-Armenians in the National Defense Forces.

But, we mustn’t forget the Assyrians, Syrian-Greeks, and other Syrian minority groups who have also joined the National Army and the National Defense Forces, and who have been fiercely fighting the Islamist rebels and fighting for Syria.

The Syrian people are of various Christian denominations: Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Chaldean, Nestorian, Armenian, Protestant, Latin Catholic, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, and Greek Catholics. All of these groups have joined Syrian Forces and fought hard for Syria’s freedom from Islamists.

Syrian Kurds

The Kurdish situation in Syria is too complicated to go into full detail here, but recently the Kurds have been given full citizenship if they desire it, and Kurdish political parties have formed so that they are represented in government. Many Kurds desire their own separate country and these are things that will be worked out later. For now, Syrian Kurds are fighting ISIS and other Islamist rebels and the Kurds do not want Islamic Law forced on them, so they fight along side and with the Syrian National Army and the Syrian National Defense Forces in the battle against an Islamic take over.

The Kurdish leader, Saleh Muslim, stated in September 2015, that an overthrow of Assad and Syria’s National Army would be “a complete disaster for the entire world.”

He gave examples where his Kurdish forces and the Syrian Army and National Defenses were attacked by ISIS, and which the Kurds and Syrian Forces fought side by side and for the same goal. Muslim said that if the National Army and National Defense Forces fail, ISIS will most surely conquer Syria.

Many thousands of Kurds are happy in Syria and live in the Latakia countryside and also near the Iraqi border. They have joined the National Defense Forces and fight side by side with the Syrian National Army.

Syrian Women

Syrian women are joining the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces by the thousands. They are against the Islamists not only because it would be the end of Syria if Islamists win this war, but because it will be the end of freedom for Syrian women. And Syrian women love their rights and personal freedoms. They are willing to fight to the death to keep these freedoms.

Under the present government and the current constitution, the equal rights of women are protected. Under an Islamic Law system–they will have none.

Women’s Rights in Syria

The present Syrian Constitution includes the following in Chapter III, “Social Principles”

Society in the Syrian Arab Republic shall be based on the basis of solidarity, symbiosis and respect for the principles of social justice, freedom, equality and maintenance of human dignity of every individual.

The state shall provide women with all opportunities enabling them to effectively and fully contribute to the political, economic, social and cultural life, and the state shall work on removing any restrictions that prevent their development and participation in building society.

*** Many photos are included on the webpage: Syrian women proudly display the ink on their fingers showing that they have voted in the presidential election—for Assad; Armenians and other Christians in the National Defense Forces; Kurds, women, Christian Bishops, all armed and participating in the fight against the Islamic takeover.

Photo credit Beshro

Cheri Berens lives in Egypt working as a researcher for the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. She experienced Egypt’s 2011 and 2013 revolutions and witnessed the Muslim Brotherhood takeover and violence that followed.