The town of Darayya has become the latest scene of a massacre of civilians at the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s military forces.
It is a working class town of around 200,000 people in the province of Damascus and is seen as the birthplace of the revolution.
Reports describe over 300 bodies being found in the basements of buildings where people had gone to shelter from the air attacks and bombing. Troops laid siege to the town for several days, then went through the city backed by tanks and helicopter gunships.
The Local Coordinating Committees (LCC) reported the wounds of the dead indicate many had been executed. “The shabiha (pro-regime) militias… have been transformed into a killing machine that threatens the Syrian people and our future,” the LCC said.
Assad is desperate to defeat the revolt and says he will crush it “whatever the price might be”. State television news said the assault left Darayya “cleansed of terrorist remnants”.
But despite this latest episode of mass killing and the ongoing military onslaught, the opposition remains organised and continues to resist.
Assad’s offensive is concentrating on breaking the opposition in the cities of Damascus and Aleppo. Resistance in Aleppo held off the regime forces after several massive battles in which the regime tried to retake parts of the city from the opposition.
Up to a million people have been displaced across the country. Ensuring the basic survival of the refugees and resisting on the ground is largely being organised by the LCCs along with the Syrian Free Army. The importance of the LCCs is only now being recognised in the mainstream media.
It is through these committees that food, security and medical care is organised for the thousands of civilians who remain in areas under opposition control.
Sometimes food prices can be agreed collectively with local farmers. After security, food distribution is one of the main concerns for those besieged by Assad’s forces.
Some reports describe how LCCs now even print their own newspaper—Revolutionary Words. These include news about what is happening in the revolution as well as pieces on revolutionary history.
One of the editors has said, “This is not an intellectuals’ revolution… This is a popular revolution. We need to give people ideas, theory.”
The Western powers are still trying to lay hold of this revolt. But their strategy of funnelling its intervention through the Syrian National Council (SNC), made up mainly of exiles, has so far failed. The SNC has not won credibility with the mass of the opposition.
So the West’s strategy has shifted to trying to co-opt other sections of the revolution. This includes talking to some elements of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).
But despite these attempts the majority of the FSA and the local committees have managed to maintain their independence and resilience.