Syrian people in the campaign “Over our dead bodies” protesting a possible US-led strike sit in front of tents set up on the hilltop of Gasyon in capital Damascus. The campaign seeks to protect Syrian installations from air strikes. Photo: Yang Jingjie/GT
A civilian campaign to protect Syrian installations with human shields is being held in Damascus in anticipation of looming US attacks.
The campaign “Over our dead bodies,” which was started last week on Facebook by Ogarite Dandache, a Lebanese reporter who has been covering the Syrian crisis, encourages people to form human shields around Syrian facilities that are potential US strike targets.
Dandache told the Global Times Wednesday that the idea of the campaign was drawn from a similar one conducted during the Iraq War. She insisted that it be a “personal endeavor unattached to any financial or political sides.” “We cannot just wait for the US aggression to come. We want to say we don’t agree with the aggression and we’ll be here to protect Syria,” Dandache said.
According to the organizers, hundreds of people have since Sunday started convening on the hilltop of Gasyon, which oversees Damascus and has extensive military and communication facilities.
The campaign set up 20 tents at a site on the hill, with several dozens of Syrians, many of them students, staying overnight.
Ahmad Hammoud, one of the organizers and a student, told the Global Times that more than 10,000 people had joined the Facebook group but that between 300 and 500 had turned out since Sunday.
At around 7 pm Wednesday, dozens of volunteers were taken to the site by bus. During the nearly four-hour rally, they held signs rejecting the US invasion, sang patriotic songs and waved Syrian flags.
The Global Times reporter Wednesday night counted nearly 100 volunteers participating in the campaign, while Hammoud claimed that another 100 people took part at another site.
“We chose Gasyon because the Syria TV signal towers are here. The US may decide to destroy Syrian TV facilities to say whatever they want to say to control the mentality of the army and the people,” Dandache said, adding that she is also planning to bring the campaign to other Syrian cities.
Hammoud said the campaign will last until the end of any US attacks.
Nadra, a 31-year-old college student who only revealed her first name, told the Global Times that she loves her country and wants Syria to return to the old days before the crisis, adding that her parents supported her participation.
“The army has been protecting us. Now it’s our turn to show we’re with them,” she said. “We don’t care about Obama. We care about our country and people. We don’t want to live in a US democracy, because we saw it (fail) in Iraq and Libya, and we want to decide our own future and the leader we want.”
The organizers said the campaign was not backed by the government, with authorities only giving approval for their staying and providing them with access to electricity.