June 14, 2013

Muhammad Abo Abdo, 42, was working in public relations for a bank in Dubai when the Syrian uprising broke out. He returned to his hometown of Sheik Miskeen in Daraa. Abo Abdo has since worked as a citizen journalist to provide news coverage to outlets outside Syria, during which he was shot in his chest by a regime sniper.

When various battalions were united in Daraa last October, the Battalions of Sheik al-Islam ben Taimiya were formed. Abo Abdo is a field commander and coordinator among the battalions. He believes in an Islamic state that includes everyone and doesn’t force the others to accept what they don’t want. The village of Sheikh Miskeen is now blockaded by the regime, with no movement of citizens in or out. There’s a severe shortage of food and supplies, Abo Abdo tells Ahmed Kwider, as flour ran out last week.

Before the war, 36,000 people originally lived in the village, but now Abo Abdo says there are only about 5,000 left.

Q: Does the FSA control the Syrian-Jordanian borders?

A: The regime controls Nasib Crossing, which opposes Jaber Crossing in Jordan. As for the illegal borders [crossings] like Tal Shihab, through which refugees go to Jordan, are controlled by the FSA. There’s still the government army checkpoint of Hamida a-Taher at the last post on the crossing of Daraa City, where many security and shabiha gather.

Q: Are there military checkpoints of Hezbollah in Daraa? How do you know?

A: Three Hezbollah snipers have been serving for two months at one of the strongest checkpoints in the village of Sheikh Miskeen. I knew this from someone who works with us and crosses the checkpoint on daily basis. He saw one of the snipers wearing a different uniform from the Syrian soldiers. He even looked different. They don’t follow the orders of the checkpoint command. They have a separate command from the army in the area, and it seems they’re made masters over Syrian soldiers.

Q: Is the news that said Hezbollah members are existence near to Syrian-Jordanian borders? How did you know?

A: The reason behind heading to Nasib area is to reinforce the control on the crossing point and to face the attacks of FSA and its attempts to control it. Not to mention Azraa City, which form a military triangle facing the rebels. Military residencies were evacuated from the families. Only the officers and higher ranks kept in there. The empty places were filled with Hezbollah members, this was said by witness lives near to the military checkpoint of those military residencies.

Q: How did Hezbollah fighters reach Daraa?

A: They came from al-Zabadani in Outer Damascus, and then headed for Division 4 HQ at Mazzeh Military Airport. Then they moved on the old Damascus-Suwayda road. A while ago, vehicles become banned from using this road, so the traffic was directed into bypasses, so that the road remains secured under the government army control. Hezbollah fighters easily cross it to reach Daraa.

In Busra a-Sham, which is divided into the eastern neighborhood of a Shiite majority; it extends until Suwayda, and the western side populated by Sunnis. When we communicated with the Media Office of Marabah Village, 3 km away from Busra a-Sham, they told us that Hezbollah fighters are present in it because there’s a Shiite incubator. The first groups arrived last year in 2012 when violence escalated in Daraa.