Daraa rebels change tactics in Syria’s south

March 26, 2013

Syrian rebels over the weekend captured a regime air-defense base near the Jordanian border following more than two weeks of fighting. The base is located close to the village of Saida on the Syria-Jordan highway. SAS reporter Abbas Deiri talks one of Daraa’s fighters whose nom de guerre is Abu Khalil. He is the operations leader for the Al Moatasim Bellah Battalion in Daraa province.

Q:  What kind of weapons does the government have and how does the FSA deal with these weapons?

A: The government army is a strong one that has an arsenal of good quality and quantity. They are supplied by major countries. We have a strategy for them that depends on guerrilla warfare and attack-and-retreat tactics. We try to blitz their important sites and assassinate regime figures. We have adopted this method for a long time, but the power balance has started to change. Now we can carry on attack on big forces and target the regime’s strategic areas.

Q: What are the weapons that fighters use in the south?  Do you have any weapons that surpass your enemy’s?

A:  The first weapons we used were our voices when we shouted [in protests,] but that evolved to using light infantry weapons. Regardless of how much we gain from the regime now, we can’t outmatch their arsenal as they have a state’s army. It’s proven, however, that revolutions always win.

Q: What kind of weaponsdo you use against the government’s armored vehicles?

A:   We’re still using the weapons that cannot completely destroy the government’s armored vehicles.

Q: There are reports of arms shipments to Daraa. What kind of weapons are these?

A: This kind of information must be confidential.

Q: What kind of weapons do you need in general?

A: We need all kinds of air-defense weapons to deal with the government army’s warplanes. We need artillery to outmatch their artillery by which they target the Syrian people from afar. The enemy also has a large arsenal of armored vehicles, so we need anti-shield weapons to destroy them.

Q: Is there any difference between the weapons sent by Arab countries and the ones sent by other allies?

A:  The FSA lacks advanced weapons, especially in the south.

Q: How can the FSA win America’s friendship in the region?

A:  America is entitled to their interests in the region, as long as they don’t violate Syria’s sovereignty. It’s their right to protect their interests, but as a democratic country, America has to respect Syria’s democracy in the future.

Q:  How can your friends trust you after the rise of Islamist terrorist groups?

A:  All the countries talking about this are accusing the FSA of including Islamist groups. There are some Islamist groups, I admit, but these are moderate and not extremist. I personally think these groups don’t have any vision or agenda for the future.

Q:  Do rebels in the south envy those in the north? Why?

A:  The north and the south are total opposite. Rebels in the north are separated and work apart from one another, but they get support from their neighbors who openly declared their support for the revolution and arming the FSA. We in the south are many and operate close to one another, but we lack weapons. It’s true the south envies the north, but we hope they win against their enemy.

Q: What you believe Syrians want from the Americans?

A: American policies are based on America’s interests. I think the Americans have received the message from the Syrian people a long time ago and they don’t need a guy like me to tell them about it. They know what’s going on.

Q: Where does the FSA get its weapons?  Where is it manufactured? 

A:  Our weapons are Russian made and we gain them from the battles we win against Assad, capturing army posts and checkpoints.