July 17, 2013
Mohammad Abu Yehia, 21, is a former aluminum-based carpenter from the besieged district of Khalidiya in Homs who is now a citizen journalist. An estimated two-thirds of the central Syrian city has already been destroyed in fighting. In recent weeks, battles have further intensified as the regime appears bent on recapturing districts such as Khalidiya currently controlled by the rebels.
Mohammad says his brother was killed in fighting and his family is diplaced from there home while his father remains imprisoned by the regime on charges of participating in the revolution.
Q: Are Hezbollah fighters participating in the attempt to regain Homs?
A: We have wireless devices gained from military, and we have the enemy frequency. From their accents we can know if they are Lebanese, Syrians, or even Iraqis. Recently our heroes [rebel fighters] captured weapons and materiel made especially for Hezbollah members.
Q: What is the nature of the blockade that regime has imposed on Old Homs?
A: Old Homs, Khaldiya, Jorat al-Shayah, al-Qarabis, and al-Qosour are facing the same siege. This siege started on June 7, 2012 and lasts until this day.
When residents’ food supply ran out, the rebels consulted Islamic scholars and then opened shops for families in blockaded areas. But it was not enough.
The regime stopped providing the area with electricity from the beginning of the blockade, and then they cut water service. So we had to look for generators to produce electricity, which works on gasoline.
For water, we take it from wells and pump it up using electricity. We get medicine from pharmacies based on whatever remains from before the blockage, and the medical equipment from the National Hospital after it was liberated by rebels. We do not import anything from outside.
The telecommunications were also cut, but we manage sometimes to make calls and talk with our families. We go to high places to catch signals, which is very dangerous. Some activists and military leaders have internet devices. Now I am in a high place and I had to do that so I can talk with you. In case the bombardment gets worse, I will go to the Khaldiya Media Office.
Q: Which regime forces imposed the blockade?
A: There are almost no regime forces, most of them have defected and the ones who stay are few and under pressure. The majority enforcing this blockade are Alawites. I don’t know how many there are, but the leader usually is from Hezbollah.
Q: Can civilians leave there places now and live somewhere else?
A: There is no way to leave here. If there were a way, we wouldn’t stay in this torture.
Q: How is the FSA fighting this battle? Is there any united leadership? Do they have enough weapons?
A: First of all, there is no FSA in here. We are mostly people who defected from the regime army, like me and many other people. We did not form a group and agree on specific goals.
Regarding the weapons, we have small amounts of Russian weapons and locally made bombs. There is no support, no one provide us with anything.
Q: What do you here from National Coalition and FSA leaders outside of Homs? What are their opinions about what is happening in Homs?
A: We only hear false promises without any real moves.