Meeting the courageous Syrian Arab Army in Manbij and Ayn Al Arab

Syrian Arab Army soldier, Ayn Al Arab October 2019. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

A Syrian Arab Army soldier just arrived at a base on the outskirts of Ayn Al Arab (Kobane). The SAA are not entering the center of these Kurdish controlled towns to allow the civilian population to establish a new equilibrium following the detente between Damascus and the Kurdish separatist factions promoted and supported by the US and Israel.

Ayn Al Arab, October 2019 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

What always strikes me and moves me about the SAA soldiers is their simplicity, their kindness and their humanity. These are not “government forces” or “Assad’s militia” as colonial media would love you to believe, they are farmers, doctors, students – fathers, brothers, sons and husbands. They are of the people and they are dying for the people across Syria.

Syrian Arab Army in Manbij, 8km from Turkish border forces. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

When we moved on to another base north of Manbij, we arrived while the soldiers were resting. Our arrival prompted a rapid putting on of boots and tea-making. What always breaks my heart is the boots – seems strange to you? Not to me, I see mismatched boots, some without laces, trainers, wellington boots – I see soldiers who do not count upon state-of-the-art equipment to fight this war against terrorism in their homeland – I see soldiers who have state-of-the-art hearts and the souls of lions who would rather die than give up one inch of their beloved Syria to bloodthirsty butchers funded by the global billionaire classes.

Republican Guard emblem, special forces, on the jacket of a Syrian Arab Army commander in Manbij. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Spending time with these humble heroes always breaks my heart and fills me with admiration simultaneously – that these ordinary men (and women) should have to fight this war is a crime in itself. How many futures have been shattered, dreams cast aside, lives turned into a vacuum of exhaustion, tension and bloodshed and the abyss of not knowing when it will end? Hundreds of thousands.

Girls in the center of Manbij. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I met one commander who is officially disabled, he lost much of his stomach/intestine in a terrorist mortar attack during the battles for the liberation of Eastern Ghouta last year. He described how the shrapnel scattered his insides on the ground beneath his feet. He was put back together to the best of the doctors ability and he is back on the ground in the north-east. To speak with him, you would never know that he was in any pain or discomfort – this is the eternal flame of resistance that will out-burn any mercenary, extremist ideology or hegemonic depravity in Syria.

Jaish Al Islam knife taken by SAA commander during battles for liberation of Eastern Ghouta (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

This same commander took his knife out from his flak jacket – “I took this from a Jaish Al Islam terrorist in Eastern Ghouta” he said, “a reminder of what we are all fighting and that we will win, there is no choice”.

God bless you all, you brave and honourable heroes – you deserve to have your names engraved upon every wall in every city in the world for what you have sacrificed for each and every one of us.


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