The Syrians Insist on Normal Life Despite Threats

The Syrian people insist to live a normal life despite all the threats and dangers they are being exposed to, according to Lukash Goga, the correspondent of the Czech "Bravo" newspaper in Damascus.

In a recent report, the correspondent said people in Damascus look with great respect and appreciation to the soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army starting from their belief that those soldiers are there to protect them.

"Anyone can notice the state of mutual respect between civilians and military personnel everywhere in the city's streets," the Czech journalist said.

"Army soldiers are our sons, they help us, and all people in the streets are pleased to seeing the army so close to protect them whenever they need," the journalist quoted one of the Damascene ladies as saying.

Goga also hailed traders' determination to challenge the obstacles and to continue opening their shops to sell goods to people. He said that life in Damascus is similar to that the Syrian people lived in 2010, that is, before the crisis in Syria began.

The correspondent quoted a shop owner at al-Hamra Street as saying: "Following years of prosperity, the situation was worsened during the past two years. I thought of travelling abroad, but I didn't. So, I stayed because the situation becomes more stable, as people continue to come to the shops to buy their needs.

"Tension and fear never appear s on people's face in Damascus. At the beginning, fear prevailed, particularly after terrorist operations began in the city. However, as the time passes, people overcame their fears and returned to practice their daily life, the Czech journalist said.

H. Mustafa

The Bleeding Valley

Yesterday, I visited Al-Nadarah valley, that spot of land which has ever been a place for freshness, joy, celebrations and festivals that attract Syrians nationwide to enjoy the charming nature. However, the Valley area has been turned into a hell at the hands of the foreign and regionally-backed armed terrorist groups and mercenaries who have been fighting the Syrian state for more than two years.  

August, in al-Nadara Valley, was known to be the month of holding various nature and tourist festivals in the castle and the valley region, but this year it has changed to be the month of death, terror and bloodshed. Women in the area have dressed in black instead of the colors of joy and happiness, because they lost their sons in this mad global war against the country.

 Death came from the castle, the Krak des Chevaliers, which used to carry love and protection for the valley over centuries. Terrorism comes to replace joy with pain and to spread sorrow all over the happy valley.

I heard a lot of horrible details about the massacre which was committed by terrorists at one of the valley nights. I met the injured people, the bereaved mothers and the distressed fathers who told me how the armed terrorist groups have turned their joy into funerals and how young men and women are being killed for no reason except for their being Syrians.

A young man from Marmarita told me: "That night the people of the valley were holding a wedding in one of the valley's hotels. At midnight, we heard heavy gunfire followed by people's shouting that a large number of Jabhet al-Nousra terrorists have attacked them from the Krak des Chevaliers."

"We contacted people from the National Defense Forces who assured us that a group of at least 300 terrorists has attacked three checkpoints for the national defense forces in the Valley region with the aim of destroying "al- Farouk checkpoint" and they managed to reach the checkpoint and kill all its personnel.

"The national defense forces succeeded to force out those terrorists who had committed their terrible massacre against a group of civilians, including women, workers and university students. Some of them were killed while trying to escape from the hotel and the others were killed while they were asleep at home," he concluded.

The toll from the savage attack was five martyrs from the National Defense Forces and three civilians in addition to a large numbers of wounded people.

A doctor at the Marmarita clinic said:" When I heard about the clashes I rushed to the clinic and contacted with the medical and nursing staff as well as the surgery doctors informing them that I am in the infirmary and they have to come and give a helping hand." Unfortunately, we could not reach the place of the attack because of heavy clashes. We were informed that the brave young men of the NDF managed to take injured people to al-Hoson Hospital and al- Bassel Hospital in Tartous."

The father of martyr Soumar Yazigi, said: at the time of the massacre, my son was vacationing in the valley. He is a volunteer in National Defense Forces fighting with his friends in Khanasser in Idlib against the terrorist groups who have been killing innocent people and ravaging our dear country. That night Soumar was having dinner with a friend at a restaurant when he heard the sounds of the heavy gun fire and the clashes targeting the national Defense Forces checkpoint. He came quickly to the house, took his weapon and went ahead to support the checkpoint members, but he was martyred along with them in the assault".

"Soumar was one of Syria's young men who volunteered in the National Defense Forces after the end of their military service to confront the armed terrorist groups, starting from their strong belief that Syria is more important than their soul and that the nation's survival is the highest target," the father said.

He added "Soumar has chosen martyrdom which is the only means to save the nation's pride and dignity."

"By his martyrdom, Soumar has proved to the entire world that our principles are firm and our Syria is the most important and the most sublime of all," the hero's father stressed.

Amal Farhat

Al-Shammat: Humanitarian Aid by European Loyalty Campaign Expresses Solidarity with Syrian People

DAMASCUS -   Humanitarian Aid Provided by European Loyalty Campaign expresses solidarity with the Syrian people, underscored Minister of Social Affairs Kinda al-Shammat.

During her meeting on Tuesday with the campaign's organizers, al-Shammat said "the Higher Relief Committee is concerned in conveying the humanitarian assistance provided by international organizations or by similar social initiatives in accordance with a distribution plan which guarantees that the assistance goes to those who are really in need.

"Syria is paying for its national stances which reject the American and Western schemes that aim at dominating the region and its resources and at confiscating the country's independent decision, the minister said.

For his part, Head of the Campaign Amin Abu Rashid affirmed that part of the assistance needs to be conveyed to the crisis-hit families in the Palestinian camps in Syria, particularly al-Yarmouk Camp where many families are suffering the terrorism of the armed groups.

He clarified that the campaign, which will continue to send other aid convoys, aims at alleviating the suffering of most victimized families and categories of society, such as women and children.


H. Mustafa   

Children at War Times

The regionally and Western-backed war against Syria has forced thousands of Syrian families to leave their home, seeking refuge in neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. However, the refugee camps set to host the displaced families in these countries, have offered nothing to the Syrians, but humiliation, exploitation and insecurity.

Children, in particular, have been major victims of the unimaginably miserable living conditions, harsh circumstances and human rights violations in these camps. As if the biting cold, the pain and the fear these children have been exposed to weren't enough to make them really miss the stability and the safe haven their home had always offered to them.

Child Brigades

Recruiting Syrian children inside and outside the country by armed terrorist groups and exploiting them in the ongoing armed conflict in Syria emerges as one of the gravest violations of internationally-recognized child rights.

Child rights international experts affirm that horrible violations against children in the refugee camps in Syria's neighboring countries continue under the deadly reticence of the international community.

The UN has admitted, according to the experts, that the international resolutions and conventions, prohibiting the recruitment of children in armed conflicts, are being violated by the armed groups fighting the Syrian government for more than two years.  An example of armed groups recruiting displaced Syrian children in a neighboring country is embodied in a recently formed child battalion calling itself "Toyour al-Janna" (Birds of Paradise) to join the so-called "jihad" along with the armed terrorist groups in Syria.

But though posing a challenge to related International Security Council Resolutions, the armed terrorist groups' crimes against Syrian displaced children continueunabated aiming to add more pressure on the Syrian government. 

Not only militarily exploited, the Syrian children in the refugee camps are being economically and sexually abused and deprived of necessary health and education services, particularly in Turkey, where the government of the Justice and Development Party commits blatant violations against Syrian children and women. Even the humanitarian assistance, set to be sent to them, is being stolen by the armed groups and gangs.

The report regrettably didn't mention the blatant violations against displaced children and women by the authorities of Turkey's Justice and Development Party government in the Turkish refugee camps.

Deprived of education

Children in the refugee camps of Jordan and Lebanon are deprived of education and are being forced to join religious schools so as to get extremist brain-washing education based on destructive and takfiri dark ideas.

Concerns also grow over the situation of displaced children as the Syrian government faces difficulties in conveying humanitarian aid to displaced families because the armed groups hijack the aid convoys and steal their contents. They also attack schools and hospitals to use them as bases for their terrorist acts.

Rape, "sex jihad"

Shamelessly, the armed groups also admit their inhuman acts against women and children in the refugee camps, stressing that they have molested and raped girls as well as boys, encouraged the so-called "sex jihad" and run illegal relations under and an alleged "religious" cover.

Media reports from Jordan's al-Zaatari refugee camp have come up with examples of Syrian girls, sometimes under 14 and 15, having been raped and exploited in sex trade. 

Some disparate families in these camps accept a little sum of money from men, coming mainly from Gulf States, for their 14 or 15 year-old daughters. The men, sometimes too old, take their child wives to flats and stay with them for a few months then go home alone leaving behind psychologically destroyed victims who later discover that they weren't wives, but were actually taken for sex only.

Immediate action should be done to squelch these atrocities as soon as possible. International organizations must send their representatives to the refugee camps to detect the security of the children and guarantee that they are rendered their necessary services.

The Syrian government has repeatedly urged the displaced Syrians in the refugee camps to return home and promised to provide them with all their needs. It has spared no effort to cooperate with the UN organizations to do what helps halting the violations in the camps and guarantee the refugee's safe return to their home.

H. Mustafa

Hand in Hand for Syria

We as Syrian are capable for facing our current crisis inside and outside our territories through adhering to national unity which is an example to be followed by all nations.

The Syrian students at the world's various universities have thronged recently as one person in front of their homeland's embassies to express complete solidarity with their homeland Syria and to assert full rejection of the foreign conspiracy that is being hatched by certain foreign states against Syria's firm and national stances.

In India, Spain, Cuba, Belgium, Brazil and Venezuela, all the Syrian students stood hand in hand for their homeland Syria to voice full support to their mother land in the face of her current crisis.

In India the Syrian students staged a solidarity stand with their homeland. They carried the national Syrian flags and chanted national slogans.

They vehemently condemned the foreign intervention in Syria's internal affairs, expressing full rejection of Arab and foreign intervention in the crisis. Students also cited our army's heroic stances in confronting the terrorists and extremists' crimes against our people. The students also described our army's sacrifices as a national mission.

The Syrian students planted a fig tree as a symbol of life and issued a statement supporting our political leadership's endeavor regarding combating the foreign conspiracy being executed by certain western states, including the United States of America and its allies in the region against Syria's principled stand with respect to defending the Arab just causes, namely the Arab – Israeli conflict.

For their parts, the Syrian students in Brazil took a solidarity stand with their brothers in Syria. They also cited their motherland's role throughout history in carrying the torch of civilization all over the world. 

The students condemned the flagrant foreign aggression against Syria, highlighting the Syrian army's sacrifices in safeguarding our homeland independence and sovereignty.

They also reiterated full rejection of any kind of foreign intervention in Syria.

In Belgium the Syrian students staged a solidarity stand with our beloved Syria and with our wise political leadership due to its efforts in defeating the global conspiracy against Syria.

 They call for abiding by the national unity as the only exit from the crisis.

In Italy our students reiterated support for their homeland and its political leadership.

Our sons in Spain staged a solidarity stand under the title of '' Hand in Hand for Syria" The students sent a letter to the Spanish Parliament to unmask the real picture of Syria's current bloody events .

In Venezuela the Syrian students expressed solidarity with their homeland in a special stand they have organized before the Syrian embassy in Caracas where students expressed support for their army, political leadership and people in the face of the foreign and regional intervention in Syria's internal affair.                   

Nahla Maaz

Social Affairs Ministry, IOM Agree on Enhancing Relief Work

DAMASCUS, (ST)- The Ministry of Social Affairs and the International Organization (IOM) for Migration on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the area of humanitarian and relief work aiming to provide humanitarian aid and support for victims of the ongoing events in Syria.

According to the memo, a center for psychological and social support is to be established and the centers charged with providing assistance to the victims of the crisis and those of human trafficking in addition to disabled people, will be reactivated.

The memo also provides for building the abilities of civil society associations staff in the domains of psychological and social support and managing temporary houses.     

Minister of Social Affairs Kinda al-Shammat affirmed that the memo aims at implementing projects and activities relating to relief works in Syria.

She stressed the importance of cooperation and coordination between the Higher Relief Committee and the international relief organizations acting in Syria to go in harmony with the Ministry's plan regarding social care.

For her part, Head of the IOM Maria Raman expressed the organization's readiness to provide necessary assistance to accomplish the projects which alleviate the suffering of the victims of the ongoing events in Syria.

H. Mustafa

Ramadan in Syrian

For Syrians, Ramadan is home time, a time where mothers and grandmothers care for family and as ever that care is displayed through food. Around a big table of meticulously made meals the whole family sits, all at the same time, to share and enjoy delicious food prepared with utmost care.

While, not so long ago, a family sitting together to savor a meal used to be taken for granted; anyone living in today's world knows how such simple joys have become quite challenging these days and might need taking extra measures, or even require pre-scheduling to happen! Today's hectic lifestyle demands have left families striving for each other's company, therefore Ramadan offers a welcomed break from that challenge allowing families to gather again, catch up and share meals together.

'Silat Al Arham' (Blood Ties) meaning gathering and connecting with the kinfolk, is one of the Islamic virtues that becomes fundamental in the Holy month. Therefore, families ensure meeting and connecting.

Maternal love is in most cases displayed through nurturing by food. It is well known how our mothers always want to feed us, always demanding us to gather and tempting us with spreads of deliciousness. Especially during Ramadan, knowing that everyone is hungry and would appreciate good meals, they go out of their way and artistically create challenging and time consuming delicacies for all their children to enjoy.

"During Ramadan we spend more time in the kitchen, and we prepare many dishes for Iftar (fasting breaking). It is how we express love to our family." One Syrian mother declared. Although our mothers make it all seem effortless, the production of such varieties is no easy task and in order to produce delicious daily meals, some preparation ought to take place in advance.

In Ramadan That mission is not only taken by our mothers, but even our grandmothers. the sight of a mother and grandmother standing together in the kitchen, cooking together for their children, is a real attraction in Ramadan. I have always enjoyed watching mine, and now more than ever appreciate the sentiment and the effort of such generosity of spirit.

When I asked my grandmother about the change of eating and cooking habits during Ramadan from the rest of the year, she accord that Ramadan is a month to eat at home and particularly homemade traditional cuisine, firmly stating that Ramadan is not the month for consuming fast food. Sharing  most Syrians opinion about Ramadan’s eating habits.

 I was really excited when describing Ramadan as being the month of home, where mothers and grandmothers symbolize care, passing a large part of the day cooking to ensure family gathering and enjoying delightful meals. That is a short and sweet description of Ramadan’s spirit in my mind, giving that month a unique flavor. Ramadan rituals in Syria lie in the ability to gather and bring back the simple joys of life.

Food is at the centre of home, where all the family shares joy.  The preparation of a variety of meals for Iftar-time ( breaking fasting at the sunset) is a reflection and a celebration of both: bringing together the family and breaking the fast.

"In Syria, Ramadan is so special for us that the preparations generally start in Chaaban"(the 8th lunar month in Hijri calendar preceding Ramadan), when housewives start stocking their pantries with principal ingredients such as: sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, chickpeas, lentils, honey… etc.

In a refined cuisine such as the Syrian cuisine, all recipes are irresistible. However there are specific dishes synonymous with Ramadan and must be included on Ramadan menu. We are known by three Syrian Ramadani recipes: First, Sellou (a special mixture of nuts, sesame seeds, roasted flour, butter and honey) that we consume at Iftar-time. Second, we make kilos and kilos of Knafa (a famous Syrian sweet) served with the equally popular soup Hareera to balance the sweet and sour taste. Third the Briouates Louz (special filo samosa, stuffed with almonds and soaked in honey flavored with orange blossom water).

In my country, Ramadan has special culinary rituals: Ramadan for Syrians is eating at home. We prefer eating traditional foods, no way that we consume fast foods! We spend more time in the kitchen preparing varieties of dishes for Iftar. Generally, we start cooking at 1.00 pm preparing Hareera, savory samosas,  Batboot stuffed bread, marqet dja’j( chicken sauce) chicken tajine ,  almond mini pies baghreer pancakes, and salads.