Late Saturday night, Hezbollah and regime soldiers surrounding the village of Hurayra, near the Qalamoun mountains, picked up microphones and projected a warning to the 4,000 people inside: They had 24 hours to evacuate.
By the next day, half of the 800 families in the mountain village had left.
The village, 32 kilometers west of Damascus and administratively part of Zabadani, is included in the Madaya, Zabadani, al-Fuaa, Kefraya agreement between the regime and rebel forces.
When the 24-hour deadline expired, the forces that surrounded the village “began shelling and spraying the village with machine gun fire,” an activist who fled Hurayra and is now in an undisclosed location in the suburbs of Damascus tells Syria Direct’s Waleed a-Noufal.
Q: Did the regime or Hezbollah forces issue any evacuation orders?
Yes, both forces used amplifiers to order Hureirah’s population to leave their homes. They gave the residents 24 hours on Saturday night.
Mountain village of Hurayra. Photo courtesy of Hurayra’s Facebook page.
Q: Have any of the families left the village?
An estimated 400 families of the 800 living in Hureirah left on Sunday. That same day, the regime began shelling and spraying the village with machine gun fire.
The regime didn’t specify where the population should go, just that they needed to leave. This left many of the families to flee to the surrounding villages and the Qalamoun mountains.
Although the regime allowed people to leave, the families still have to contend with the mountains separating the villages.
Q: Who stayed behind?
No military age men remain in the village, are wanted for avoiding mandatory service. All who remain are women, children and the elderly.
The families who have stayed in the village do so because they are scared of passing through the military checkpoints. Many of these are either family members of draft dodgers or opposition fighters.