Syrian government allows Daraya residents to enter city amidst pro-Syrian government propaganda
Rif Dimashq - SMART
On Tuesday, the Syrian government allowed residents of the city of Daraya in Western Damascus to enter the city for a few hours hours amidst pro-Syrian government chants, the raising of the flag of the Syrian government, and broadcasting songs that glorify the Syrian government forces and President Bashar al-Assad.
SMART obtained videos showing thousands of residents of Daraya entering the city via a single road that the Syrian government specified. The residents gathered in central Daraya and listened to a speech promising the residents to allow them to return to the city permanently in the coming days.
Although thousands of residents entered the city, many others refused to enter for fear that the Syrian government may arrest them. The residents doubted the Syrian government's promise that they will allow them to enter between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.
A woman from Daraya said that she entered the city to check her house and was surprised upon discovering the destruction caused by the Syrian government forces' bombings using different kinds of the arsenal in recent years.
The woman, who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons, added that members of her family refused to enter Daraya because they did not trust the Syrian government, and they insisted on not participating in pro-Syrian government celebrations. The woman expressed shock that the Syrian government forces looted all houses that they entered in Daraya.
Another woman wondered why the Syrian government delayed rehabilitating the city so that residents could return to it. The woman added "I think the Syrian government will make the residents rehabilitate their houses, electricity supply, and other services by themselves and at their own expense."
Activists recently deported from the city by the Syrian government reported that the Syrian government allowed residents to enter Daraya this month specifically because of the sixth anniversary of a massacre that took place in the city. The massacre claimed the lives of 700 civilians and dozens are still missing.
The activists added that the Syrian government deported fighters who refused to reconcile with the Syrian government in August 2016. The activists noted that the Syrian government wants to deliver a message to the residents of Daraya that the Syrian government can do anything to them at any time, according to what the activists posted on social media.
Daraya was one of the first cities of the peaceful uprising against the Syrian government at the start of the Syrian Revolution in 2011. The Syrian government forces responded to the peaceful protests by shooting at the demonstrators. The Syrian government forces attempted to storm the city several times amidst intensified bombings that killed and injured thousands of civilians, before they reached an agreement with opposition military and civil groups in Daraya to relocate to Northern Syria.