Tartus protestors come out for Russia

Pro-regime residents in the city of Banyas in the coastal province of Tartus held a rally on Sunday to express their support for Russia's growing military support for the Assad regime.

“The rally carries a clear message that Russia is the force that will protect the regime’s presence and keep it in power” Mohammed al-Banyasi, citizen jouranlist from Banyas, tells Noura al-Hourani.

Q: What was the purpose of the rally? What were the signs that participants raised? And why weren’t there any pictures media coverage?

The signs were welcoming and supportive of the Russian presence that is no longer hidden from anyone. As for taking pictures, I can’t say for sure, maybe it was photographed by regime supporters themselves, but people from opposition neighborhoods won’t carry any type of camera for fear of being arrested.

Q: Does this rally represent the stance of most regime supporters?

This rally is representative of most of the regime supporters in the cities on the coast. The rally is an attempt to send the message to both supporters and the opposition that you must welcome the [Russian] presence, so the regime is drumming up support.  It is possible the rally was staged at this time for that purpose.

Q: What is the message being sent by the rally?

The rally carries a clear message that Russia is the force that will protect the regime’s presence and keep it in power, at least on the coast where its support is concentrated, and that Russian support ensures psychological relief and a sense of security for regime supporters there.

Q: Is it true that Russian checkpoints have been set up between Latakia and Jabla, the town which the Basel al-Assad military airport through which Russia is sending troops and supplies?

There aren’t checkpoints, but rather there are Russian soldiers at the regime’s own checkpoints, and their mission is to oversee and secure the process of transporting weapons that are coming from the Latakia port and the Basel al-Assad military airport. 

Noura Hourani

Noura Hourani is from Latakia province. She studied English Literature at Tishreen University and previously worked as a private English tutor in Syria. She has worked at Syria Direct since 2015 and was named the 2018 Middle East and North Africa Laureate for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers' (WAN-IFRA) Women in News Editorial Leadership Award. Follow Noura on Twitter: @nanozain81

James Bowker

James Bowker graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a double major in Arabic Language & Middle Eastern Studies. He has previously worked with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) study-abroad program and as a remote translator for the Article 25 Right to Health campaign.