Deal for Four Cities… And Death From One Side

Despite the implementation of the “four cities” agreement, it is not possible to compare — in any sense at all — the siege of Zabadani and Madaya which are under opposition control, and the siege of Kefraya and Foua which are under the control of the regime and its militias

More than a year after the “four cities” agreement, with Zabadani and Madaya in the south, and Kefraya and Foua in the north, which was struck between Jaish al-Fatah and Iranian negotiators, most of the terms remain unimplemented.

The besieged town of Madaya in the Damascus countryside has recorded more than 250 deaths during the period of the agreement as a result of starvation, snipers, or a lack of medicine, in addition to the landmines planted around the city.

The city of Zabadani has paid the biggest price for this deal, as more than 35,000 people have been expelled, with 200 of its people remaining inside, most of them fighters who refuse to forfeit the city, despite all the surrounding circumstances.

It is not possible to compare — in any sense at all — the siege of Zabadani and Madaya which are under opposition control, and the siege of Kefraya and Foua which are under the control of the regime and its militias. The latter two are receiving all the needs for the civilians and fighters from Soviet-made Ilyushin aircraft.

Parachute baskets land on Kefraya and Foua before the eyes of Jaish al-Fatah under the excuse that they do not have anti-aircraft weapons, in addition to the smuggling operations activated by some civilians and fighters from the town of Binish, Maarat Masreen, and others towns in the southern Idleb countryside to the inside of the two towns.

The negotiator “Abou Hameedou,” who has Iranian nationality and resides in Turkey, was one of the residents of the Nubl district in Aleppo, and is responsible for the negotiations file regarding the “four cities” truce. Communication with him is done from the United Nations, according to a source.

Abou Hameedou uses blackmail against the people under siege in Madaya, by exploiting any injury or wound inside the city to the advantage of the people of Kefraya and Foua. Most recently was his request to bring out four civilians from Kefraya and Foua in exchange for a wounded or sick person from Madaya, which led to a suspension of the evacuation process until further notice.

The suspension of the evacuation will not result in negative effects on the people of Foua and Kefraya, as they have medical teams, specialist doctors and surgeons, in contrast to Madaya, which suffers from a severe lack of medical staff and medical supplies, which pushed its medics to suspend their work days ago.

The people of Madaya live on the repeated appeals which the medics and activists issue to evacuate the wounded, or calling for urgent materials to be brought in.

Madaya is surrounded by more than 165 military points of Syrian regime forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, with each point separated by about 20 meters. Activists estimate there are 8,000 landmines planted by Hezbollah around the city, which complicates matters for civilians fleeing the city, and has already killed and wounded a number of them. A local source said: “Fifty injuries from mine explosions have been documented, including 10 who were killed immediately upon the explosion and 12 who had to undergo amputations.”

In Foua and Kefraya a local source says that the opposition checkpoints which are imposing the siege do not exceed more than 20 in number, and there is about 300 meters between each point, which makes it easy for civilians to enter and exit or for goods to be smuggled into the cities.

What the four cities have witnessed over a year is death from one side amid the inability of Jaish al-Fatah to put real pressure on the cities of Foua and Kefraya and to achieve equality between the north and the south.

Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.


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