Al-Assad condemns in Palestine what he is committing in Syria

A delegation from the Palestinian factions, including “Hamas” and “Palestine Islamic Jihad,” meets with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, in Damascus - October 19, 2022 (Telegram/Syrian Presidency)

A delegation from the Palestinian factions, including “Hamas” and “Palestine Islamic Jihad,” meets with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, in Damascus - October 19, 2022 (Telegram/Syrian Presidency)


Enab Baladi – Hussam al-Mahmoud

Since the beginning of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip on October 7, following the Operation Al-Qasa Flood, the Syrian regime has taken a number of steps that did not deviate from the context of courtesies in the face of what the Palestinian factions seek from the so-called “Resistance axis.”

Damascus contented itself with political statements that did not differ from those issued by countries that do not consider themselves guardians of the issue, in addition to raising the Palestinian flag, official media coverage of what is happening in the occupied territories, and declaring mourning.

If the regime’s moves in this context are relatively consistent with some Arab reactions, they conflict at the same time with the internal situation in Syria, whether within the regime’s areas of control or outside them, given the conditions of the Palestinians, and the destructive mechanism used against the opposition-controlled areas in northern Syria.

After the Israeli targeting of the Al-Ahli Arab (Baptist) Hospital in Gaza, which resulted in the killing of 471 Palestinians a week ago, a brief statement by the Presidency of the Syrian Republic described the targeting as “one of the most heinous and bloodiest massacres against humanity in the modern era.”

The statement also stated, “Syria considers this massacre a barbaric act that expresses the level of hatred of the Zionist entity, which with its crimes exceeded the utmost levels of aggression and murder.”

After the targeting of the Palestinian hospital, health and administrative staff in Syrian hospitals and health directorates organized solidarity rallies in support of the Palestinian people and denouncing the “aggression of the Zionist entity” on the Gaza Strip and the massacres it is committing, including those it committed in the Baptist Hospital. The Doctors Syndicate also condemned the targeting after the regime’s government declared three days of mourning, starting on October 18.

The regime’s comment on targeting the Baptist Hospital was preceded a week ago by a statement by the Syrian Civil Defense, the rescue agency working in opposition areas, which counted the human and material losses caused by the escalation of the regime’s forces on the areas of northwestern Syria. It revealed the killing of 46 people, 13 of whom were children, during the escalation that lasted for days following the October 5 attack on the Military College in the central city of Homs, five medical facilities, including the Idlib National Hospital and the University Hospital, were directly targeted.

The regime also considered the Israeli bombing of Damascus and Aleppo airports on October 12 as part of “the ongoing approach to supporting extremist terrorist groups that the Syrian army is fighting in the north of the country, which constitute an armed arm of the Israeli entity (referring to the opposition forces).”

Displacement “angers” the regime

During a phone call with the Algerian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Attaf, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad, stressed the importance of continuing to support the Palestinian people, preventing Israel from implementing its policies of displacing the Palestinians, and the necessity of strengthening joint action.

Mekdad’s statement comes in light of Israeli efforts to displace Palestinians from the Gaza Strip towards neighboring countries under the pretext of carrying out a ground military operation against “resistance factions,” which Egypt and Jordan strongly reject.

In the same context, the Syrian regime caused the displacement of Palestinian refugees inside Syria, along with millions of Syrians who took refuge in neighboring countries and others, and displacement in the areas of northwestern Syria, where about 1,635 Palestinian families live.

The Palestinians are distributed in the Killi camp, north of Idlib, the Atma area, Aqrabat, Deir Ballut, and the city of Idlib. There are also Palestinians from the (48-Arabs) in Sarmada who came there after their displacement in 1948, in addition to their presence in the Aleppo countryside in Azaz, Afrin, Jindires, and Al-Bab.

The regime forces and their allies displaced most of them from the Handarat camp in Aleppo, the Yarmouk camp, and Khan al-Shih south of Damascus to northern Syria, and they live in residential complexes for displaced Palestinians, and some of them live inside the cities.

The Yarmouk camp witnessed battles and military operations between the Free Army factions and the regime forces amid the division of the Palestinian factions at the time on both sides of the front before the Islamic State organization took control of two-thirds of the camp in 2015.

In May 2018, regime forces took control of the Hajar al-Aswad area and the camp, and the clashes caused the destruction of more than 60% of the buildings and infrastructure in the camp, and it was classified as the seventh most destroyed area in Syria, according to a survey conducted by The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

Commenting on the Syrian regime’s position on the events in Gaza, Syrian journalist Alia Mansour published a picture showing a large crowd of the people of Yarmouk when the regime forces besieged it before taking control of it. She said, “They want the one who besieged and killed the Palestinians to save the people of Gaza.”

Fayez Abu Eid, head of the media department at the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), told Enab Baladi that the Syrian regime raises resonant and picturesque slogans to support its positions and preserve its regime since these slogans are directed at the internal and Arab street.

This discourse on the Palestinian issue continued until the 1990s, coinciding with the peace process and the actual entry of Hafez al-Assad into it so that the regime maintained an unchanged propaganda discourse about Palestine and its cause.

According to Abu Eid, the regime deals ambivalently with the Palestinian issue, condemning what the Palestinians are exposed to in Gaza, but it bombed the Yarmouk camp and imposed a strict siege on it, leaving the people facing hunger and disease.

A tense relationship with Hamas

Since the outbreak of the revolution in Syria in 2011, the Syrian regime’s relationship with the Hamas movement, the most prominent “Palestinian resistance” group, has gone through a state of confusion after the movement announced its support for the Syrian revolution against the regime, the closure of its offices in Damascus, and the departure of its leaders from Syrian territory.

In 2021, it moved towards rapprochement with the regime again, with the mediation of the Lebanese Hezbollah, and then a delegation from the Palestinian factions visited Damascus to meet with Bashar al-Assad on October 19, 2022.

Despite the movement’s earlier announcement of “turning the page on the past” in relation to the relationship with the Syrian regime to bring about “a new beginning for joint Palestinian-Syrian action,” the mention of Hamas in al-Assad’s interview on August 9 with the Sky News Arabia channel did not provide a reference to “Turn the page.”

On August 9, al-Assad attacked the leadership of Hamas, describing its position as “a mixture of treachery and hypocrisy” because it was claiming resistance and carrying what he said was “the flag of the French occupation of Syria,” explaining that the relationship today is within the general principle.

Abu Eid of the AGPS considered that al-Assad’s statements express the regime’s true position on the Palestinian issue since the positions did not go beyond denunciation and sympathy at a time when Gaza needs the force of arms.

Since October 7, Gaza has witnessed an Israeli escalation that has caused the death of more than 4,100 Palestinians, in addition to displacing hundreds of thousands from the north to the south and cutting off the means of life for the Strip, at a time when movements have been limited to the fronts of the “axis of resistance” in Syria (Where the Iranian presence is active), and in Lebanon (Hezbollah’s stronghold), in random partial skirmishes that do not relieve pressure on the open internal front against the Gaza Strip,

The violent air campaign is accompanied by the Israeli threat to carry out ground military action in Gaza, which is matched by a warning from the “resistance factions,” most notably the Al-Qassam Brigades, of the consequences of taking such a step.



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