Day in Besieged City

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Enab Baladi Issue # 99– Sun, Jan. 12, 2014

حماةMuhammad Safi – Hama

The city starts its day off with sounds of rockets and guns targeting its “liberated” suburb and tearing it down, while, regime forces storm into the city itself setting up checkpoints and conducting searches and raids.

Residents of the city head to their work only to be faced with checkpoints tearing the city’s neighbourhoods apart and humiliating its people; not to mention arbitrary arrests of males aged between 18 and 27 in an attempt to tighten their grip and their control over the city and push its residents to evacuate.

At In the afternoon, regime forces deploy at four main points at checkpoints. Regime forces maintain armed patrols in nearby shops where they rob both shop owners and pedestrians; these robberies became a typical part of the city’s daily routine.

Arrest campaigns in middle-class and poor neighbourhoods start at the same time as well; regime forces storms these neighborhoods making rounds during which they raid houses looking for “wanted” people and dissidents, and taking whatever properties and personal effects they (would?) like form these houses.

As for the four checkpoints at the city’s entrances, they tighten the siege of the city for days each month as a routine procedure; siege is tightened on the city in concurrence with FSA operations targeting the checkpoints surrounding the city.

Repeated car thefts were recorded. Estate private cars are stolen from civilians; in addition, trucks and pickups are also stolen to be used in moving munitions from Hama Airport to checkpoints and units deployed and besieged in southern Syria.

Recently, the situation has escalated as these checkpoints started arresting females; several arrests were documented in several neighborhoods: 9 in Al Jisr; 3 in Aleppo Road, and 2 in Al Qosor.

Weekly, the city receives the corpses of the detainees who died under torture in Intelligence Departments in Damascus. Lately, 93 bodies were received from Mazzeh Military Airport; the deceased detainees died as they were denied nutrition and medicine while they were locked in polluted cells where germs spread as other dead bodies were decomposing within the cells. The untreated injures the deceased’s had sustained during torture helped illness and pestilence to spread rapidly among detainees.

On the ground, regime forces have absolute control over the city, preventing the Free Syrian Army from carrying out any operations. Thus all the FSA’s activities within the city are limited to assassinations, and targeting Hama Military Airport with Grad Missiles from the northern suburbs of Hama.

Regime forces retaliate shelling the airport by targeting kaferzita, a town in the northern suburbs, with missiles and containers and barrels of explosives. Deliberated attempts are also made by regime forces to spark disputes between civilians and the Free Army through spreading rumors and hurling accusations; the last of which was in Al Karama neighborhood; regime forces fired a mortar shell at the neighborhood while the Free Army was targeting the airport. Addounia TV Channel rushed at the place where the shell landed and accused “armed gangs” of committing this atrocity that caused one death and one injury.

Whenever a battle ensues anywhere all around Syria, people head to the Hama, the city of refugees. Several neighborhoods of the city are populated only with the city’s guests, the refugees from other areas.

That is how life goes on in the city of Hama; citizens are safe from the shilling, yet not from Assad militias. People in Hama, who say they feel as if they are living in a large prison, count on no one, not the free army nor any other armed formation, and await the long-awaited relief and for God’s infinite mercy.

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