“We seek refuge beneath the sheltering rocks of our homeland, enduring the onslaught until the barrage subsides – our shield in the face of adversity. This sentiment encapsulates the harrowing reality faced by Ali Droubia, a resident of Ehsim in the Jabal al-Zawiya region, situated to the south of Idleb. His predicament mirrors that of those dwelling along the contact lines in northwestern Syria.
In the latest wave of bombardment, Ali, prioritizing the safety of his family, evacuated his wife and children to a secure location. Undeterred, he stood guard over his land, clinging to it amidst the chaos. Speaking to Enab Baladi, Ali revealed that the relentless bombing and military escalation by regime forces and their allies have plagued Jabal al-Zawiya since his sons joined the Syrian revolution in 2011.
Jabal al-Zawiya, freed from regime control in 2012, has been subjected to continuous bombardment by regime forces, militias, and Russia, resulting in the loss of many of its residents. Despite a large-scale military operation in late 2019 pushing regime forces back, the region remains a target, with casualties from bombings occurring almost weekly.
The intensification of bombardment in northwestern Syria has heightened the fears and concerns of residents living near the contact lines. There is a growing apprehension of a recurrence of the displacement scenario witnessed in early 2020, which led to the forced displacement of approximately one million people from the countryside of Idleb, Aleppo, and Hama.”
“We are still at war”
“We have acquired resilience and an unwavering connection to the earth from the rugged rocks of Jabal al-Zawiya,” Ali emphasized, noting that this challenging reality has become almost commonplace for the mountain’s inhabitants. However, he added, “The constant fear of displacement lingers with each rocket or artillery shell that strikes the area, coupled with the ceaseless presence of reconnaissance aircraft, signalling that the spectre of war still surrounds us.”
Upon entering the Jabal al-Zawiya area from the north, the atmosphere is tinged with the unmistakable ambiance of warfare. One must constantly be aware of the imminent danger, susceptible to perils ranging from deceitful shells to airstrikes by warplanes or suicide drones.
A significant number of the mountain’s residents have secured alternative accommodations, whether with relatives or in tents within camps situated away from the frontlines with regime forces or near the Syrian-Turkish border.
In preparation for the ongoing threat, particularly those residing close to the contact lines, many in the Jabal al-Zawiya area have erected rudimentary shelters to shield themselves from the barrage of shells and rockets launched by regime forces. Positioned as the foremost line of defence for northwestern Syria, Jabal al-Zawiya holds strategic importance for the regime and the opposition.
Its pivotal location serves as a safety buffer for Idleb and northern Aleppo, overseeing the international road (M4) connecting Aleppo governorate with the coastal areas of western Syria.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.