ALARM BELLS: Regime warplanes have bombed the opposition-held East Ghouta Damascus suburbs so often in the past two years that its residents have designed an early-warning detection system using a network of stolen alarms to mitigate the damage.
The loudest alarms are powered by electricity and are placed on the top of high buildings, according to pictures given to Syria Direct by Douma-based Al Jazeera correspondent Samara Quwetli on Tuesday.
When those fail–a frequent problem in blacked-out East Ghouta–fighters use alarms powered by hand cranks to warn residents of impending air strikes.
Both types of alarms emit a loud wail that can be heard from blocks away.
“The network of alarms is run by Jaish al-Islam fighters,” Ammar Hassan, a Douma-based independent journalist, told Syria Direct Tuesday.
Jaish al-Islam, led by Zahran Alloush, is the dominant rebel force in East Ghouta and its de facto capital, Douma.
“The alarms are positioned at military checkpoints inside the city where [a special battalion] receives signals from their colleagues who are positioned near [regime] airports and warn them when the warplanes takeoff.”
Jaish al-Islam commandeered the alarms from the regime when they captured Syrian army positions in earlier skirmishes over Ghouta, said Hassan.
The regime most recently bombed Douma on Sunday, when it destroyed a block of multi-leveled buildings with airstrikes, reported the pro-opposition media Facebook page Coordinating City Douma.
Lately, however, the fighting in Douma has also been internal.
Over the weekend, Jaish al-Islam effectively crushed its main opposition rival, Jaish al-Umma, in East Ghouta after a series of mass arrests led to the latter’s surrender.
Both opposition groups had felt increased pressure from Ghouta residents after regime forces cut off the last supply road to Douma in November 2014, causing prices of food and basic supplies to skyrocket.
-January 6, 2015
-Photo courtesy of Samara Quwetli.
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