‘Daraya: the spirit of the Syrian revolution, and the heartbeat of every rebel’

Four years following its liberation, the predominantly agricultural town of Daraya, strategically located near the capital, has fallen to the regime. A deal was reached to evacuate the 4,000-8,000 civilians remaining from a pre-uprising population of 80,000. The local fighters who defended their town so courageously will go to Idlib and join the resistance there. Continue reading


Breaking the siege of Aleppo


The first aid convoy entering Aleppo after breaking of the siege – sent by the  people of Idlib

The people of eastern Aleppo celebrated on Saturday after rebels broke through the siege that had been imposed on them by the Syrian regime and its allies since July 17. For almost a month, the areas of the city held by the revolutionaries since July 2012 had been turned into an open-air prison where some 300,000 people stockpiled food and supplies for fear of starvation.

It required a great feat of unity for the rebels, with their vastly inferior arsenal, to break the siege. The democratic nationalists of the Free Syrian Army joined together with Islamist militias and, crucially, Jabhat Fatah Al Sham, which until earlier this month had been known as the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. Continue reading

Syria’s forgotten revolutionaries

I was interviewed by Patrick Ward for Bookwitty  about why contesting the prevalent narratives on Syria is so important …

Why did you write Burning Country?

There was a lot being written about Syria, a lot being written about Syrians, but very little that actually spoke to Syrians and asked them how they themselves define what’s happening in their country. So we really wanted to bring Syrian voices to the forefront, and to speak with people who had been involved in the revolution and see how they felt, to hear their story and to enable other people to hear their story. Continue reading

Challenging the Nation State in Syria

This article was first published at Fifth Estate. It was written in February, but only just got online.


Hope amidst the wreckage in Daraya

Syria’s current borders were drawn up by imperial map makers a hundred years ago in the midst of World War I as part of a secret accord between France and Britain to divide the Mideast spoils of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. As the colonial state gave way to the post-independence state, power was transferred from Western masters to local elites.

The three major discourses which grew out of the anti-colonial struggle—socialism, Arab nationalism, and Islamism—all fetishized the idea of a strong state as the basis of resistance to Western hegemony. In the case of Syria, it led to the emergence of an ultra-authoritarian regime where power is centralized around one man in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, bolstered by the state bureaucracy, and security forces. But today, new ways of organizing have emerged which challenge centralized authority and the state framework. Continue reading

The Revolution Continues

With the ceasefire deal, many communities have experienced their first break from bombing in years. Today people across the country took to the streets under the slogan ‘The Revolution Continues’

There were reports of over 100 protests. People chanted for the fall of the regime, for rebel unity, for the release of prisoners and for freedom.


Maarat al-Numaan, Idlib

Continue reading

The assault on Aleppo


The questions for this interview were written by the authors of Syria: The Stolen Revolution.


“We Will Not Leave The Trench Until The Night Is Gone” By the activists of Aleppo, photographed by Barry Abdulattif. Source: The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution

We are currently witnessing what looks like the crushing of anti-Assad rebellion forces. The Aleppo battle seems to be a turning point in Syria’s civil war before a general confrontation with ISIS occurs. In your opinion do rebel forces still shelter components of the revolutionary Syrian movement? Or are they nowadays reduced to sunni confessional militias, supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia?
Anti Assad rebels in north Aleppo are now facing a relentless assault by Russians from the air and an Iranian backed ground force comprised of various sectarian militias. This has transformed their struggle against a fascist regime into a national liberation struggle. The Russian Air Force has decimated civilian infrastructure in the province. The main rebel supply route from Turkey has been severed. The rebels are surrounded in the Azaz corridor by regime allied militias, Daesh and the Kurdish YPG. Continue reading

‘Burning Country’ Extract: On Islamisation

yassin-kassab-bcAn extract from our book has been published by The National. Before the extract comes an introduction to the book and the situation written by Robin.

The revolution, counter-revolutions and wars in Syria are terribly misunderstood, particularly in the English-speaking West, by policy makers and publics alike. There are many shining exceptions, but in general poor media coverage, ideological blinkers and orientalist assumptions have produced a discourse which focuses on symptoms rather than causes, and which is usually unencumbered by grassroots Syrian voices or any information at all on Syrian political and cultural achievements under fire.

The consequent incomprehension is disastrous for two reasons – one negative, one positive. Continue reading

Syrian voices, refugees and solidarity

12472827_10153730809647550_2313665074239559131_nOriginally posted on The Pluto Press Blog

The news from Syria is heartbreaking. Lives shattered by conflict, civilians deliberately starved, the rise of extremist Islamist groups and sectarian narratives, and the interference of foreign powers, pouring fuel on the fire. These are all aspects of a vicious counter-revolution which has attempted to crush the popular movement which emerged in 2011 to reject decades of tyranny and demand freedom and social justice.

But there is another story to be told too. The story of countless inspiring and courageous individuals and communities who have tried to keep the original values and goals of the uprising alive even in the most tragic of circumstances and in the face of the most savage repression. Their stories are often not told, and they rarely receive solidarity. This is why we wrote this book – to give voice to the voiceless. Continue reading