The conference on the return of refugees, organized by Russia and the Assad regime, was closely followed by Syrians inside and outside the country, including refugees abroad and internally displaced persons who lost their homes as a result of the strikes by the regime, Russia, and Iran over the past years.
Most of the Syrians who belong to the opposition mocked the conference and said they refuse to return to the regime-controlled areas unless Assad leaves.
The ways they expressed their sarcasm varied, and their postings included previous statements made by Assad and his leaders where they threaten refugees.
Syrians sent out hundreds of tweets using the hashtag #Return_Begins_With_Assad_Departure, in which they wondered about what return are Russia, the regime, and Iran talking about exactly. “Is it a return to human prisons and slaughterhouses, or a return to queues outside bakeries and gas stations? And how will they return when their cities and homes have been destroyed by the regime and its allies, who cannot rebuild what they destroyed with their own hands?”
Activists also shared photos of security notices against them by the regime’s intelligence services, due to their activity, deemed revolutionary, against the Assad regime. They stressed in their posts that their positions towards the regime have not changed.
Some of them circulated video recordings of the regime attacking peaceful demonstrators, and they also shared a clip of Maj. Gen. Issam Zahreddine of the regime, who was killed in Deir ez-Zor, threatening refugees who want to return to Syria, telling them, “Advice from yours truly, do not return.”
Previous statements by Assad also came up, particularly a speech in which he spoke about the homogeneous society that Syria has become after the displacement of hundreds of thousands of residents from their homes. In the same speech, which he gave in August 2017, he considered the areas from which the revolution emerged as incubators of terrorism.
Activists said that the situation in Syria is dire, even for people who do not have security concerns, and hundreds of thousands of Syrians dream of leaving the regime-controlled areas and traveling outside Syria at any cost, after the regime brought the country to its knees and operated, along with its Shabiba, under the slogan “Assad or we Burn the Country. “
The response came not only from opponents of the regime, but also from social media users in regime-controlled areas.
Angry comments on social media attacked the conference, saying that they are waiting for the right moment to leave Syria, which is governed by mafias who control bread, fuel, electricity, and gas.
They urged refugees abroad not to return to the country, knowing the current conditions, and stressed that they are living in humiliation in every single aspect of their daily lives while the regime’s government and its officials remain indifferent.
Laila Ahmad commented, “Who wants to return? Who are they kidding? And where do they want to return to? People already cannot find a piece of bread to eat. You want to bring back more people?”
The people in the regime-controlled areas demanded a swap between Syrians abroad and Syrians at home. They commented, “There’s no problem at all. Let them return and we will leave, an exchange of sorts.”
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.