Abu Dali “a free zone” between the opposition and the regime… a Syrian deputy facilitates operations

Guesthouse of Ahmad Darweesh in the village of Abu Dali (Internet)

Guesthouse of Ahmad Darweesh in the village of Abu Dali (Internet)


Printed Edition ‖ No.: 223

Enab Baladi – Idlib

The village of Abu Dali, in the north-east countryside of Hama, controlled by clans loyal to the Syrian regime headed by Sheikh Ahmad Darweesh, a member of the People’s Council, is considered one of the most important commercial markets among the different controlling forces in the region. It can be described as a “free zone” full of goods that different forces on land, represented by the armed opposition and the regime’s forces, benefit from.

The road of “Hama – Abu Dali – liberated areas” is the lifeline of both merchants and smugglers. It operates under the coordination and exchanged agreements among different parties in order to facilitate the movement, as there are no checkpoints nor are there any military aspects that reflect the presence of monitoring or control points by the Fronts that are not far away from this road.

Witnesses of the region say that anyone can normally come to and leave the village of “Abu Dali”, as long as you know someone from “Sheikh’s people”, or someone from the village, in which the regime’s flag flies with no problems.

A resident of the southern countryside of Idlib, Taleb Barazi, says that “the road is functioning in an ideal way, after all the parties of the region, including military factions, merchants, smugglers and others, came into an agreement and conducted a high-quality coordination among themselves; food and fuel are the most important goods that are brought into and out of the village.”

The road is being used for many purposes, most importantly is the commercial exchange between the regime’s areas and the “liberated” ones, and that is by entering food supplies through the opposition in exchange for entering fuels of gasoline and diesel through the regime’s areas. Barazi points out that no one can block these convoys along the road, adding “there is a commercial exchange…the road must operate normally in order to take advantage of the lack of basic goods and supplies at each party.”

• Abu Dali is a Syrian village under the township of Aqrebat in the region of Al-Salamiyah in the province of Hama.

Abu Dali had a population of 288 in 2004 according to the Central Bureau of Statistics

Abu Dali undergone the attacks of the opposition factions through the Syrian revolution after the stationing of National Defense fighters in it, 2014.

After that it has been kept aside from battles.

Turkish Goods’ Entry

Akram Halabieh, a food supplies merchant in the countryside of Idlib, exports supplies and consumer goods to the regime’s areas through the road of “Abu dali” village for a year now. However, the goods he sends to the regime’s areas are all Turkish-made and are banned in those areas, yet Halabieh asserts that “paying some money enables you as a merchant to send your shipment to “Abu Dali” village and then to the regime’s areas, with no questioning by the security checkpoints in the regime’s areas.”

He adds “if you want, you can send protection cars of Sheikh Ahmad Darweesh’s elements to escort your shipment and prevent the checkpoints of inspection.”

Human Smuggling

In addition to goods and fuel exchange between the regime and the opposition in the region, there is another active trade that is stimulated by the activity of the military conflict on land; as the elements of Sheikh Ahmad Darweesh smuggle civilians from regime-controlled areas to the liberated areas in north of Syria, without being questioned by any security party.

Eyewitnesses in the region say that the elements of Ahmad Darweesh are capable of crossing all of the regime’s checkpoints, after they get paid large sums of money by the person willing to leave the village, according to “Abu Mohammad”, a military dissident from the regime’s army in the city of Aleppo, who arrived to the north of Syria through “Sheikh’s elements”.

Abu Mohammad asserts to Enab Baladi that he was not questioned at all, one of the military factions in the opposition (he refused to name) paid the road costs for him, along with 11 soldiers that accompanied him from Homs, Damascus and Hama.

Regime facilitates to “Sheikh” and his people

Mohammad Shoukri, Commander of “Abrar” battalion, which follows Ajnad Al-Sham union in the region, explained that deputy in the People’s Council, Sheikh Ahmad Darweesh, was never questioned by the regime, despite knowing all about what he and his people commit, simply because “the regime is benefiting from the food supplies that come through the village.”

In return, Abu Dali village witnessed many shelling and storming attempts by the opposition forces, after experiencing abnormal movement in the recent months. Shoukri asserts that “any abnormal movement or trespass by the village’s Shabiha (those who intimidate using violence in favor of the regime) will be met with a severe response by the factions, such as; shelling the liberated areas from inside the village or attempting to progress by these forces”, pointing out that there are a number of military plans that aim at stopping any progress in the future.

The stillness of the battles in the north countryside of Hama, compared to other areas in Aleppo and Lattakia, enabled confrontation lines to be a suitable commercial and civilian crossing between the opposition forces and the regime.

Today, there are more than one contact points agreed to be a crossing between the two parties, in order to facilitate the passage of travelers and commercial goods within the same country. Movement in these crossings is normal with both parties inspecting and verifying passers-by, however, the experience of “Abu Dali” village and its unique and outstanding method from other crossings remains.

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