On the most important pro-government Facebook pages out of President Bashar Assad's hometown of Qurdaha, in Latakia, users post fantasies of the fate of the ruler and his father and former President, Hafez Assad.
Some say he will sink into the sea in glory. They deify their ruler, leading Syria on behalf of the Iranian Shiite Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.
But what is most surprising, in fact shocking, is to see a page describing Qurdaha as "The den of lions", filled with pictures of dead men, coupled with comments expressing extreme pride, pain and sorrow.
This page is overwhelmingly full of details of the casualties of the city and could be considered a recruitment center for young loyalists to the army and security forces, or the groups offering fanatical sectarian support for the regime forces.
Any posts not related to the subject of the martyrdom of so-and-so are rare.
Pictures show individuals, couples or groups of martyrs, as they are described – all from Qurdaha or the towns around it. Most of the young men were serving in the most violent and criminal units in regime's army: The Armored Fourth Brigade and the Presidential Guard, who are both close to the regime in sect and geography.
What really attracts attention is the long list of casualties, all military aged men, revealing the extent of the losses of their best young men the region has suffered as a result of their defense of the Assad family. It is proof that they are, as one page is named "All Sacrifices of Abu Hafez's shoe."
Every day, and sometimes hourly, the page adds an obituary for a newly dead soldier. It would almost seem the numbers are exaggerated, but a closer look shows that all details of the dead are carefully documented. In one post, for example, the administrator deletes the news of the death of one Colonel in Khan al-Assal and apologizes for mistakenly announcing his death. While Zaman al-Wasl was preparing this report, news about the death of a Colonel from Ruweyset al-Basatneh, killed in Daraa, was published, announcing that his funeral will be held on Wednesday.
Though this colonel is not an exception, he is the newest on a page full of names and pictures of dozens of high-ranking officers, all from Qurdaha.
Othr examples include: General Sharaf Fawwaz Aslan, General Yasser Mualla Nawfal, Brigadier General Rond Ali Johnny, Brigadier-General Muhammad Ali, Brigadier Tamim Aaref Tamer, Brigadier Ayman Shakkouhi, Brigadier Ali Khouzam, Brigadier Fawwaz Aslan, Colonel Samer Asaad, Colonel Yasser Jamil Ismail, Colonel Raad Wadi Jadid, Colonel Yasser Nawfal, Lieutenant Colonel Bashar Tawfiq Hatem, Lieutenant Colonel Mohsen Salman Jarkas, Major Ias Suleiman Ahmad, Major Moudar Yousef Barakat, Major Sami al-Jallad, Major Fadi Wajih Fadel, Major Sami Saleem Habib, Major Muhammad Jaber Dib, Major Nibras Mubarek Ahmad, Major Shadi Nizam Makhlouf, Major Rani Murshed, and Major Maher Ismail.
Zaman al-Wasl only included only famous and high-ranking officers, but there are also dozens of lower ranking officers listed. As for soldiers, the numbers are even higher, and it is sufficient to say that the number of casualties published on the page in the first week of August reached 37, including those killed in the last attack by rebels and jihadists on the Latakia countryside.
Apart from individual pictures, the page published collective pictures of "The martyrs of Harf al-Msetre" (a village nearby Qurdaha). Zaman al-Wasl counted 46 militias from different ranks on the page, though the total population of the village doesn’t exceed 7000 people. The people there are considered so close to the regime that the majority of their youth, if not all, are recruited into sensitive positions.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer