May 14, 2013

Faek Abboud is the spokesman of al-Moatasem Bellah Battalion, which operates under the Horan al-Fallujah Brigade. This brigade took part in the battle for Khirbet Ghazaleh. On Sunday, this strategic town, which divides Daraa province from east to west, fell to regime forces. Abboud has had a front-row seat throughout the weeks-long fighting. He described the latest developments with Ahmed Kwider.

Khirbet Ghazaleh lies on the international highway in the middle of Daraa province, east of Dael. It’s an important intersection that links the eastern area of Daraa with the west.

Khirbet Ghazaleh is located on the two supply routes used by regime forces, on the highway and near it. It played a role in the revolution against the French occupation, and participated in the peaceful protests of the Syrian uprising. It played a major role in hitting the regime’s convoys heading to towns and villages along the highway. The town’s roughly 25,000 residents have deserted their homes. The majority have sought refuge Zaatari Camp in Jordan. Some of them have relocated to Daraa’s far towns and villages.

Q: What is happening in Khirbet Ghazaleh, and is it true Jabhat a-Nusra entered [the city] to liberate it?

A: Today [Tuesday], regime soldiers control Khirbet Ghazaleh completely along with the international road. It has turned into a theater for [pro-regime] Dunya television, which is presenting what happened as a war against the armed terrorist gangs to restore security and safety.

The Dunya station claimed that Jabhat a-Nusra played a major role in this battle. They want to prove to the world that Jabhat a-Nusra is deeply involved in most of Daraa, even though only small numbers of Jabhat a-Nusra fighters participated, and they didn’t play a big role in the Khirbet Ghazaleh battle. FSA brigades and battalions were the ones present with large numbers and varied weapons.

Q: How was the government army able to enter and capture Khirbet Ghazaleh? What happened exactly?

A: The brigades and battalions in the area had to withdraw because they lacked ammunition and did not receive help from their brethren in al-Muhajereen wal-Ansar Brigade, nor the [FSA] Military Council.

Q: What are the reactions of the FSA leaderships towards the regime’s capture of Khirbet Ghazaleh?

A: They are rethinking and calculating what’s happening on the ground. Those who are responsible for the fall of Khirbet Ghazaleh are known. In our next battle, we’ll have to depend on God and ourselves, without making excuses. Our military operations will be planned again to be like guerrilla wars.