April 26, 2013

Mouayad Ali is a citizen journalist and a fighter in an FSA battalion in Deir e-Zor. His unit is based in Almo Hasan, from which he spoke with Ahmed Kwider, and is working to capture the Deir e-Zor Air Force base.

Q: What oil fields does the FSA control in Deir e-Zor? Where are they?

A: [The FSA] controls all field except for one; ak-Omar field. They control the fields of a-Tannak and al-Ward in al-Jazeera line near al-Bokamal, in addition to al-Kamb in al-Bokamal and a-Taim in Almo Hasan.

Q: Which part of the armed opposition controls the fields? How did you know?

A: The FSA, Jabhat a-Nusra and some civilians protect the fields. I know that because I have relationships with the opposition, and our battalions participated in liberating these fields. Add to that that I’m a journalist.

Q: How do you honestly describe the relationship between the FSA and Jabhat a-Nusra?

A: The relationship is not good, but they share the same objective. [People in Jabhat a-Nusra] are extremists, and what they want for Syria in the future is impossible to achieve. Jabhat a-Nusra wants a strict Islamic state. The FSA and the opposition generally reject that. Syria is a country that holds all sects and religions.

[Jabhat a-Nusra and the FSA] have been recently in the same battle [against al-Assad regime.]

Q: Why is the relationship between the FSA and Jabhat a-Nura not good?

A: The main reason is their [Jabhat a-Nusra] religious strictness. They also have leaders who didn’t come from Syria.

Q: Does controlling oil fields have something to do with that too?

A: I don’t think so. Jabhat a-Nusra only controls the gas station which provides containers for the citizen for free.

Q: What is the name of this station? What is the process of filling containers?

A: It’s a station that has been recently established. Some specialized engineers volunteered to operate it to serve citizens. Jabhat a-Nusra was assigned to fairly distribute [gas] on towns and villages. [The station] is located in the east side of Outer Deir e-Zor, on al-Jazeera line north to the Euphrates.

Q: It seems that Jabhat a-Nusra controls particular fields. How will the FSA deal with this?

A: The FSA usually comments on this issue by saying they don’t intend to handle these locations now because [the priority] is to fight the regime and liberate what’s left of Deir e-Zor, and Syria in general. The FSA has the largest oil fields.

Q: What are the largest fields the FSA controls? Do they approve Jabhat a-Nusra supervision of selling oil?

A: The largest field is a-Taim which is on the gateway of Almo Hasan city. I don’t think the FSA will approve Jabhat a-Nusra’s supervision of selling [oil].

Q: How serious is the conflict between Jabhat a-Nusra and the tribes?

A: The tribes of Almo Hasan did not allow Jabhat a-Nusra into the city. Every city or town has a unique impression of Jabhat a-Nusra.

Q: What is that impression? What are their differences and fears?

A: They have a different ideological approach. People in Deir e-Zor in general avoid Jabhat a-Nusra because of its extremist Wahhabi ideology. That doesn’t include some areas, such as the village of Shaheel and some of al-Bokamal and al-Ishara villages, where some of their citizens have been to the Gulf States and adopted some of its Wahhabi ideas.

Q: Have the rebels been able to producing oil? What’s happening to oil?

A: Yes, they now sell crude oil until they get sufficient equipment. This is how they fund their military operations to liberate Deir e-Zor, which is now imminent.

Q: How is oil transferred and sold even though al-Assad’s warplanes control the sky?

A: They are transferred to some primitive refineries in Deir e-Zor and other provinces, such as Aleppo and Idlib. Some is sold in Turkey.

Q: Does the FSA control these refineries?

A: Yes.

Q: Who rules Deir e-Zor on the ground?

A: The FSA.

Q: But the regime is still at the airport and other military posts.

A: Yes, but they’re exhausted. I can now move freely through the streets of Deir e-Zor [City]. As for the rural, we all know that it has been completely liberated a long time ago.

Q: When will the rebels finish [capture/destroy] the airport?

A: The way I see it is that the FSA and Jabhat a-Nusra are advancing there every day. The airport is about to fall soon; in 10 days at most. Al-Assad battalions have started to remove the heavy surface-to-surface missiles at the airports and the battalion nearby. This is what they usually do before giving up or fleeing.

A while ago, as I was talking to you, 3 missiles landed on one of al-Mayadeen’s villages, in Outer Deir e-Zor; the village of a-Taibah in particular.