We left our dreams, our memories and our loved ones under the dust as we have been forcefully displaced from Darayya,” with such words, Abdul Majid Jamal al-Din (a member of the displaced population of Darayya) described the departure of the people of his city towards northern Syria, in days like these in 2016.
Talking to Rozana, Jamal al-Din added that "the United Nations and the international community have witnessed the forced displacement of the population of Darayya at the hands of the Syrian regime.”
Abdul Majid Jamal al-Din - a member of the displaced population of Darayya
He pointed out that "the Syrian regime is currently trying to manipulate emotions and promote that there is a possibility for us to go back home only to get rid of the accusations saying that the regime is causing demographic changes."
These days (late August) coincide with the second anniversary of the forced displacement of thousands of persons from Darayya after a four years siege and a large military campaign launched by the regime's army supported by Russian warplanes and foreign fighters, most notably armed soldiers affiliated to Hezbollah.
In coincidence with such anniversary, the Syrian regime announced that the people of Darayya are free to return to their city. At the time, the people of Darayya who were evacuated to northern Syria staged a sit-in protesting against the regime's policy of forced displacement. They also carried pictures of the green buses that transported the displaced population of Darayya bearing the United Nations’ logo.
Haitham Ghazal (a native citizen of Darayya who has been displaced to northern Syria) told Rozana that he cannot describe the feeling following his departure on August 27, 2016, with words. "Perhaps the best expression during the moment of leaving was crying," he said.
In the meantime, Mohammed Imam (one of the displaced residents of Darayya) stressed that “the return of the people to Darayya is a natural right without the favor of the Syrian regime, which destroyed the city and killed and arrested many of its people.”
(Haitham Ghazal, one of the displaced persons from Darayya)
Darayya suffered a severe siege by the regime's army and foreign fighters, most notably the Lebanese Hezbollah, for four years, following a military campaign launched by the regime's army on the city, which resulted in 700 people killed, 250 missed and hundreds of detainees, according to statistics of the local opposition council in Darayya.
Mohammed Imam (from Darayya) described the Syrian army and its loyal fighters, who stormed Darayya in late August 2012, saying that “it was the harshest 48 hours in our lives... 12,000 soldiers broke into the city after they cut off the means of communication and carried out field executions against civilians.”
He added that “militants of the army stormed the houses and executed women and children in shelters ... The bodies filled the streets, and young men fled to the nearby fields, but the regime forces targeted them with machine guns and killed and injured many of them.”
(Mohammed Imam, one of the displaced persons from Darayya)
Media outlets and “Darayya coordinating body in the diaspora” reported that the Syrian regime handed over last July lists of 1,000 people from Darayya who have been detained by the regime security services since 2011, and who died under torture.
Darayya was one of the first cities in Damascus countryside which supported the Syrian revolution against the regime in 2011, and its people took part in many peaceful demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the regime. It is located about 8 km away from the city center in Damascus countryside, west of the capital. It is very close to the Damascene Mezzeh neighborhood and the city of Muadamiyat al-Sham. Darayya is also one of the largest cities of the Western Ghouta.