March 8, 2013
Government forces continued to hit Jamla in Dara Province Friday two days after an FSA brigade demanded a halt to the bombardment as condition for releasing UN peacekeepers. The FSA’s Shuhada’a al-Yarmouk Brigade claimed responsibility Wednesday for detaining UNDOF observers from the Philippines demanding that Assad’s troops leave the area.
A videotape posted by SOHR on Thursday showed the 22 UN detained observers alive in Syria. Six of them were uniformed and sat together. SAS News correspondent Abbas Deiri interviewed FSA Staff Colonel Abu Mahmoud by phone in Jamla.
Q: Is the FSA worried that the international position towards the Syrian revolt might change because of detaining the observers?
A: We are not worried because the Syrian revolution is not responsible for our group’s decisions. As for the observers, they were in danger when the FSA sighted them, decided to protect them and take them to a safe location. They probably got to the area by mistake. When the bombardment escalated, we couldn’t abandon them.
We, in the FSA, are not terrorists. Up till now no one condemned the regime. We have communicated with the head of observers who was promised by regime defense minister not to shell the area for two hours so that the observers get to leave. The regime didn’t stop its bombardment though; quite the contrary.
We demand that the world send international observers and journalists to witness the destruction by regime bombardment on these towns. We demand to release many prisoners at regime detentions. I stress the observers are our guests and we’re protecting them.
Q: Have you destabilized the Syrian-Israeli cease-fire line?
A: There hasn’t been any tension between us and Israel. The bombardment is by regime heavy artillery. We don’t have any intention to cause any tension on the border and all we want is our freedom from this criminal regime.
Q: Will Israel attempt to occupy land for self-defense after you’ve detained the observers?
A: They can sing this song as much as they want. The observers were 22 persons and they were trying to escape the bombardment. They only observe and if Israel claims Syrian land for self-defense, that actually means they want to defend the regime.
Q: How can we be sure the observers are safe and sound?
A: You have images of them and they all have talked to their families. We are trying our best to secure them and we’re responsible for their safety. It’s very important for us to protect them.
We hope the international community will make pressure on the regime so that this area remains a demilitarized zone, which is why we have observers.
We appeal to the international community to help solve the Syrian crisis and end Assad’s rule. We are 20 million Syrians facing genocide and at the same time protecting 20 persons who are safe. The FSA is responsible for them and guarantees their protection. What we demand from the international community is to provide protection for the 20 million people.
Q: Will the regime respond to your demands?
A: The regime doesn’t want to respond. They will try to assassinate them and accuse the FSA of that. They want to convince the world the FSA is a terrorist organization. The regime continues to bombard the area and we noted they have recently escalated their assault in an attempt to kill the observers and accuse the FSA. We are committed to their protection.