East Ghouta town calls for ‘fall’ of Zahran Aloush

A demonstration in the town of Misraba in East Ghouta on Sunday demanded the fall of Zahran Aloush, the head of rebel group Jaish al-Islam [JAI], in addition to the release of prisoners in JAI custody.

“Aloush is responsible for people's arrests,” Anas al-Khouli, a citizen journalist from Misraba, tells Ammar Hamou. “Zahran Aloush is the one who makes the decisions and the United Command implements them.”

Q: People at the protest in Misraba chanted for the release of detainees—where are those detainees and what are the charges against them?

The detainees are sitting in Jaish al-Islam's prisons. There are various charges against them—some are being held on charges of corruption, others on charges of belonging to Jaish al-Umma [a rival that JAI eliminated in January 2015], and others still on charges of belonging to the Islamic State.

Q: Among other things, people in the video chanted “Fall Zahran.” Why were they chanting against Aloush personally and not the United Military Command as an organization?

Aloush is the one responsible for people's arrests. The United Command does not have decision-making power, Zahran Aloush is the one who makes the decisions and the United Command implements them.

Add to that the fact that people have grown tired of talk [from rebel groups in East Ghouta as far as breaking the siege], and need real actions to alleviate their suffering.

Q: Activists are reporting that a JAI unit arrested and assaulted you—is that true?

Soldiers from Jaish al-Islam didn't arrest me, but rather assaulted me. I was taking pictures of a women-only protest that occurred in Misraba calling for JAI to release its prisoners and stop the oppression.

Ammar Hamou

Ammar Hammou is from Douma city in outer Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and left Syria in 2011. Follow Ammar on Twitter: @Ammar_Hamou.

Dan Wilkofsky

Dan Wilkofsky was a 2013-2014 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) in Amman, Jordan, where he worked with Talal Abu Ghazaleh Translation and the Ministry of Social Development. He has a BA in Classics (Latin) and Middle East Studies from Brown University.