Beit Jinn: Unended fight turns residents’ lives into hell
Enab Baladi – Khaled al-Jeratli
The residents of Beit Jinn town at the foot of Mont Hermon in Damascus countryside live in a state of security tension from time to time, within an area whose fate has not been decided since the security “settlement” according to which it joined the areas controlled by the Syrian regime.
As soon as calm prevails in the town and the residents enjoy a normal daily life, clashes return between their families, forcing some of them to flee and others to fortify their homes, residents told Enab Baladi.
On June 2, Beit Jinn witnessed intermittent clashes over the killing of three young men from the town, followed by a family dispute that developed into the targeting of the southern neighborhood of the town with more than 30 mortar shells.
The situation is getting worse day by day, especially with the increasing frequency of clashes and shelling exchanged by the parties to the conflict, and in every confrontation of this kind, neutral residents fall victim to the clashes.
Youssef works in his land planted with apricot, walnut, and olive trees in Beit Jinn. He and his family live on the income of the land in light of the poor living conditions in Syria in general.
Youssef, who preferred not to reveal his full name, told Enab Baladi that the conflict that has been going on for more than five years has no victorious side, but the losers are the residents of the region.
He added that he was now looking for a new shelter outside his town, either in the Beit Jinn farm or on the outskirts of his town, far from the center of the confrontations, out of fear for his family and in search of a safe life.
Disputes have been renewed in the town intermittently since the Syrian regime took control of the southern region as part of the “settlement” agreement in mid-2017.
Disputes between families that have ties to the regime and its military apparatus and others in the town that have a history of opposing the regime and its rule are renewed every period, which results in more deaths and injuries.
This is taking place under the eyes of the regime, which distances itself from any intervention after the “settlement,” leaving the matter of ending disputes to notables and clans.
Tourist region without tourists
Mohamad owns a restaurant near the Beit Jinn spring at the foot of Mount Hermon, and he has relied on tourism in the spring and summer as his source of income for years, but the security tension in the area deprived him of his only income, according to what he told Enab Baladi.
He added that the disputes in the town prevented tourists from entering the town, in addition to the practices of the regime’s security checkpoints in the area.
The detachments prevent tourists from entering Beit Jinn, out of fear of any problem that might arise, according to what he heard from members of the security forces in the town.
Mohamad, like many of the town’s residents, is looking for a new job opportunity so that he and his family can live in light of the worsening living situation day after day.
He considers leaving the town an option if the security situation continues as it is today.
Life is on hold
Most of the townspeople work in agriculture, smuggling, or raising livestock, mainly goats since the area is mountainous.
Because of the clashes and the tense security situation, life stops completely from time to time. There is no work, no tourism, and no calm, residents complain.
The pressures of life prevent residents from even thinking of alternative solutions, according to what some residents of the area told Enab Baladi.
Moving towards neighboring villages or leaving the town, and building houses on agricultural lands away from the population center inside the town, is one of the solutions that everyone thinks of.
Ahmed was the commander of a military group affiliated with the Free Syrian Army in the town of Beit Jinn previously when the opposition controlled the area, and today he spends his time trying to resolve the dispute between the warring parties in the town, according to what he told Enab Baladi.
The leader of the group, who preferred not to mention his full name, added that the regime has always been trying to distract the town’s residents from one another, and its motive today is to resolve these disputes since the combatants are from the same town, and cause harm to children, women and the elderly in the area.
Not to mention that the majority of the people stopped working, and they faced two options, either to solve the problem and return life to normal or to leave the town and start a new life, he added to Enab Baladi.
Same dispute for years
The tension is escalating, and it is difficult to resolve the differences between the warring parties, while the “reconciliation” committees in Quneitra, Daraa, and the western countryside of Damascus, and some notables of the regions, are trying to resolve the conflict, but to no avail.
With each clash, the notables of the villages surrounding the town of Beit Jinn try to enter it, calm the situation and resolve the clan dispute without the intervention of the regime forces.
The difficulty of resolving the dispute lies in the town because of the association of the Hamada family (one of the parties to the conflict) with the Syrian regime and holding it responsible for killing many of the area’s residents during its support of the regime’s attempts to storm the town in 2014 during the opposition factions’ control of the area.
According to what a member of the Reconciliation Committee in Quneitra, Mohamad al-Hassan, said in a previous interview with Enab Baladi, that most of the dead were from other families whose members were in the Free Syrian Army, and therefore the conflict between the local families continues.
The regime plays a major role in destabilizing security and stability in the region, especially the elite Fourth Division force, in an attempt to control and erect barriers that divide the region, as it has a strategic location and is considered one of the most important smuggling routes from Lebanon to the southern region, which increases the complexity of the matter, according to al-Hassan.
Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Quneitra, Zain al-Jolani, contributed to this report.
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