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Homs protesters criticize rebel ‘abuses’

Protests by a small number of persistent civilian activists in […]

6 August 2015

Protests by a small number of persistent civilian activists in the north Homs countryside continued on Thursday as residents expressed frustration with what they call “abuses” by local rebel leadership, including arrest raids, arbitrary detention and a lack of transparency.

“These protests have continued daily for over a week,” one of the protest’s organizers, Anwar Abu al-Walid, told Syria Direct on Thursday. They will not stop, said al-Walid, also a member of the Media Professionals Association of Revolution in Homs, “until these [rebel] factions consider our demands.”

Activists held signs condemning rights violations by rebel factions in images posted online Tuesday by the Media Professionals as part of the ongoing demonstrations against the actions of groups including Jabhat a-Nusra, Ahrar a-Sham and Jaish al-Tawhid.

“In the northern Homs countryside: Ongoing martial law, emergency rule and trumped-up charges,” reads the sign of protester Muhammad al-Rihal.

The protesters also demand the trial of accused Islamic State militants held in rebel jails, particularly in the aftermath of the release of Rafid Taha, an Islamic State commander captured in battle by Jaish al-Tawhid this past June, and whose recent release from detention for reasons unknown is one motivating factor behind recent protests.

“How can an IS commander [Rafid Taha] be released, when he caused the death of dozens of Homsi young men, while many civilians who have never lifted a weapon are detained without trial?” Abu al-Walid said, adding that it was not clear why Taha was released.

Civilian discontent with real or perceived abuses of power by governing rebel groups stretches beyond Homs. Late this past June, protests against the detention of civilians by Jaish al-Islam and FSA factions in East Ghouta prompted local brigades to make changes in the protocol for arresting civilians.

“How long will the farce continue?” reads another sign held by a Homs protester.

Photo courtesy of Media Professionals Association of Revolution in Homs

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