It feels, and sounds, like something from a World War II thriller.
As Syria’s slow motion revolution grinds on and the military lays siege to key protest areas, the self-declared rebels of Zabadani, a picturesque mountain town, 40 km north-west of Damascus, have begun handing out leaflets instructing residents what to do in the event of their army invading.
“Recommendations of the rebels to the people in the event of an invasion of the Zabadani region,” starts the leaflet, written by members of the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), a grassroots opposition movement.
Residents must stock up on food, hide valuables and destroy any incriminating evidence of activities related to the uprising, says the leaflet, urging people to collect family members together while youth activists escape with enough supplies to survive for a few days in hiding.
“Any attempt to confront the army and prevent it from entering is useless,” read the leaflet. “Avoid provoking elements of the army and their thugs […] We must show solidarity and cohesion among us, and hide our fear. We do not accept humiliation. Our dignity and pride are the most precious thing we have. However, we recommend not to resist arrest and avoid direct confrontation and antagonism if possible.”
Almost four months into the Syrian uprising, which has seen more than 1,600 people killed, around 12,000 people arrested, in many cases tortured, the Syrian army and security forces continue to lay siege to several key protest centres, disconnecting water supplies and cutting all communications in an attempt to crush the protests.
The leaflet warns that “the interruption of electricity or communications is a prelude to a campaign of arrests or military invasion, and should be considered an early warning.”
“There are rumors saying that the army will enter the region in the next few days, so we are busy helping give advice to people,” a member of the LCC in Zabadni told Global Post. The town has been surrounded by the army for more than two months. “Now I'm just thinking how I can protect my family,” he said. “We are suffering.”