29 July 2012

Aleppo's Uprising Not All Home-Grown

Aleppo got dragged into the insurgency rather than waiting for it to start.

"We liberated the rural parts of this province. We waited and waited for Aleppo to rise, and it didn't. We couldn't rely on them to do it for themselves so we had to bring the revolution to them," said a rebel commander in a nearby village, who calls himself Abu Hashish.
The short scrawny man with a drooping grey moustache sits juggling cell phones and a walkie-talkie, arranging for the next convoy to head for Aleppo. Tanks of fuel and homemade grenades for use in rocket launchers are piled up along the outside of his house, ready to be dispatched.
"About 80 percent of the fighters in this city come from the countryside. Aleppo is a business town, people said they wanted to stay neutral. But now that we have come, they seem to be accepting us," he said.
As towns across Syria were rocked by the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad - in which it is estimated 18,000 people have been killed - Aleppo, home to conservative Muslim families and businesses, stayed largely silent.
Although armed resistance began in poorer districts where residents had more tribal allegiances or rural backgrounds, Aleppo's sacrifices have paled in comparison to nearby northern Idlib, central Homs or even Damascus, the capital.
Exasperated by the slow progress in Aleppo, rebels in the countryside said they were finally emboldened to push into the city after an assassination in the capital Damascus of four top government officials, including the defense minister.
"It was a boost to our spirits. We were so excited because we knew it was time. Aleppo is the economic center, the true source of regime power. If we can strike it hard, and hold on, we can bring Bashar down," said one rebel fighter joining the convoy who called himself Abu Bakr.

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By: Brant

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