Regime forces have continued since last Wednesday evening their total blockade of the Barzeh district in Damascus, despite the “reconciliation” reached by the regime with opposition forces there.
Regime soldiers prevented the district’s residents from entering and exiting after they closed off all entrances and roads leading to it, while the checkpoints surrounding the district refused to allow dozens of families to return to their homes, forcing many of them to spend their nights in the streets in the hope they would be allowed to cross.
In comments to Al-Souria Net, “Abou Ali,” a resident of Barzeh, said: “Assad’s forces have been detaining a number of women and children in the Khanasa Mosque on the outskirts of the Damascus district of Barzeh, near the scientific research building, since last Wednesday evening, while simultaneously closing all the roads and entrances leading into the district from the capital Damascus, the Assad suburb and al-Tal road.”
He added that “the arbitrary arrests, which increased notably during the last two months, and the selective arrests of pedestrians under false pretenses, was the biggest motive for the intensification of frustrations among residents of Barzeh with the unfair treatment carried out by the regime’s security against civilians, which resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians and the wounding of dozens, including women and children, in previous incidents.”
Abou Ali said that the blockade which the regime forces started on March 16 led to a sharp increase in the prices of foodstuffs, and a significant decrease in the amounts of flour and fuel for the bakeries which secure bread for more than 150,000 blockaded civilians inside the Barzeh district.
In parallel, the “Barzeh district coordination council for the Syrian revolution” denied on its official Facebook page news that had been spread in media outlets loyal to the regime that “the reason behind the closure of the Damascus district of Barzeh was the kidnapping of members of branch 211 a number of days ago, including six officers, by the residents of Barzeh in the area controlled by the Syrian opposition.”
The Barzeh district last Friday saw hundreds of residents come out in a large demonstration demanding the end of the blockade on the district, the release of the women and children detained by regime forces, in addition to other chants calling for the release of all prisoners from regime prisons. This coincided with the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Syrian revolution.
The Barzeh district had entered into a “reconciliation” with the regime at the start of 2014. Despite being considered better than its counterparts in other areas, it has been subjected to many provocations from regime forces at the checkpoints which surround the district and cut it off from the neighboring districts in the capital Damascus – most prominently the National Defense Forces militia checkpoint administered by a Republican Guard colonel called Youssef, and the “Hameish” checkpoint of the political security branch, known by the name Deeb Zeitoun checkpoint.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.