The Syrian Revolution has set the best example of sacrifices since the first day it began and every scene of it necessitates detailed analyses and profound studies. Out of hope and pain, from the mosques of Othman and Safa in Deir Ezzor, the people of Deir Ezzor began to seek freedom and liberty, courageous young men who took the burden of igniting the fuse of revolution, presenting their souls as immolation for the sake of freedom and justice.
The rebels in Deir Ezzor started with basic military operations against Assad-regime checkpoints in the province. Before the end of 2011, the conditions of forming an anti-Assad military faction began to appear in the province. Civilians in Deir Ezzor city would hear heavy gunfire at night and would tell stories about heroism of the people of Deir Ezzor battling the tyrannical regime of Bashar al-Assad in the morning that follows.
They were young men attempting to protect the anti-Assad peaceful protests taking place in the province at the time. They would target Assad-regime security forces to struck fear in their hearts. They were actually like ghosts.
All of these events had prepared the atmosphere for the emergence of the Free Syrian Army.18/3/2012 was the turning point in Deir Ezzor province as the FSA was formed and began its long journey of seeking freedom, justice and liberation. The date is known to every civilian living in the province as it is the time when the “Battle of Rusafa” took place.
The FSA in Deir Ezzor was represented by two military factions called Battalions of Othman and Omar that were formed in an area between Deir Ezzor city and Muhassan. Fighters of Battalions of Omar and Othman would set up ambushes destined to protect civilians from atrocities carried out by Assad-regime forces. They would disappear in the morning and appear during nights like ghosts, aiming at weakening and keeping the regime worried and on high alerts.
A group of Syrian Revolution activists in Deir Ezzor stood side by side with the FSA battalions by providing material support, food, shelters, reconnaissance of roads, and intelligence on the movements of the regime and its cooperators.
Events of the previous night
During the night that preceded the Battle of Russafa, the FSA fighters had been divided into two groups, one in the city of Muhassan and the other in the Industrial district of Deir Ezzor city. In the same night, new groups of Assad-regime defectors arrived at the FSA checkpoints and were welcomed. After hosting the defectors, all the fighters in the apartments slept in the middle of the night, silence was prevalent in the area as it was a new built area with no inhabitants at all.
In the morning, FSA fighters woke up from their sleep, hearing the sounds of Assad-regime armored vehicles and tanks. They stayed firm even if one of the shells breached one of the wall where some of the FSA fighters were positioned, killing one of their brothers in arms. After that, they began moving quickly and bringing their forces together in the area. Thanks to one of its spies, the regime knew about the positions of the FSA in the Industrial district of Deir Ezzor and tried to encircle the area from all sides in an attempt to annihilate the fighters.
The regime manpower in the attack was estimated at 200 light and medium equipped militants backed by armored vehicles, tanks and heavy artillery position on the mountain overlooking the city of Deir Ezzor. Major Ayham Ahmad, nephew of Shawkat, a regime right hand at that time, was the regime commander leading the military campaign against the FSA.
The Assad-regime was preparing a sudden attack during which it would encircle the FSA fighters in the area, however, the latter were able to absorb the first shock and re-positioned themselves in the apartments where they were present. Each FSA group was fighting alone.
The sound of intense gunfire, heavy artillery, tanks shells and RPG were filling the area. After hours, the Assad-regime began storming the apartments while a group of FSA fighters went up to the roof in order to foil any attempt of landing by the regime forces, another group stayed at the entrance of the apartments and the stairs to prevent the regime forces from getting inside.
Despite insufficient supplies of ammo and equipment, the FSA fighters stood firm in front of hundreds of regime forces, inflicting heavy losses upon them.
The defeat and mutilation of FSA dead bodies
In the evening, the regime forces were able to enter the apartments after turning them into almost ruble and dust due to heavy shelling. Some FSA fighters fell martyrs in the shelling while the other FSA group present in the Industrial district rushed to the apartments in order to back and support their trapped comrades inside by clashing with the brutal regime for several hours, attempting to open a way from which their friends could escape. FSA commander, al-Haj Mahmoud al-Muhayssin, was martyred after he was sniped down by a regime sniper during the attack.
A group of FSA fighters continued resisting the regime forces who were trying to clear all the buildings; providing cover for their trapped comrades to enable them to withdraw from inside the apartments. At the same time, several civilians were gathered near the apartments and began to protest against the regime in an attempt to divert the attention of the regime forces clashing with the FSA groups.
Hours later, the regime forces managed after FSA withdrawal to reach the roof of the apartments where they found all the FSA fighters, who were positioned on the roof,martyred. They were heroes who refused to surrender and fought until running out of ammo and weaponry. Out of their animosity and spitefulness, Assad-regime forces took the dead bodies and threw them off top of the building composed of three floors.
A total of 21 FSA heroes were martyred during the “Battle of Russafa” while the regime suffered casualty and lost 60 of its militants.
Names of the martyrs of the Battle of Rusafa:
Al-Haj Mahmoud Youssef al-Muhaissin, commander of the battalion of Omar Ibno al-Khatab.
Mahmoud al-Khalaf al-Burjuss
Abdl al-Mounaim al-Burjuss
Abduallah al-Khaf al-Burjuss
Yousef Khamidd al-Stiyfan
Oqba Youness al-Abeed
Ibrahim Hamid Humeidi Saleh
Mohamed Jassem al-Obada al Saleh
Ibrahim Ahmed al Hamoud
Ghazi Fadel al-Alaywi
Mondir Mahmoud al Abd Assaf
Mahed Aakaf al-Munawir
Rafid Ali al Jaber
Mahmoud Badii al-Jajan
Mahmoud Ghayath al-Sanda
Mohamed Hussein al-Sukhni
Ala’ deen ablilo
Ibrahim Ahmed al-Maayouf