Rebels vow to continue fight ‘until Assad gone’

Filed on March 10, 2013

DEIR EZZOR - On top of a building in Syria’s war-devastated eastern city of Deir Ezzor, rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Al Assad have hanged a toy stuffed lion by the neck.

“This will be the fate of Assad (“lion” in Arabic) when we finally achieve victory in the revolution,” said one young rebel.

“Until then, there will be no peace or truce until we finish him off and avenge the thousands of martyrs in this war.”

Mohammed Dmin, leader of a unit of fighters, said he still has the energy to fight on.

“Weapons are the only possible and viable solution to ending the war,” said Dmin. “Dialogue is no longer possible ... We will not talk to Bashar, but only fight until victory. We will fight till our last breath.”

Deir Ezzor, a once thriving oil hub on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria, has become a practical ghost town.

Some 200,000 people of the original 750,000 residents still remain in the city, and the province of the same name is about 80 per cent controlled by the rebels.

Assad’s forces pound rebel positions in the city itself nearly every day with bombs and artillery.

In the city centre, the landscape is desolate.

Buildings are riddled with the scars of shelling and gunfire, homes devastated, the streets covered with rubble.

“There is too much blood in the soil for us to give up now when we are so close to victory,” argued Dmin.

In the Huweika district, on the banks of the Euphrates, the fighting is intense and the discussions focused on the immediate task at hand — getting rid of Assad.

“We do not tire of fighting,” said Abu Hussein, “because we are motivated by revenge. We have the strength of all those who have died over these two years,” he said.

“If we give up or stop to negotiate, Assad will have no pity on us and will kill us all. There are only two possible paths: victory or death.”

Abu Salam Tabsah, the commander of the Deir Ezzor contingent of the Al Nusra Front speaks of soldiering on.

“Until this regime has fallen and we have a strong and stable government, we will not lay down our arms,” he said.

But despite the bravado, he acknowledged that “we are tired of all this war; we want to go home.”

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