Red Crescent is the Sole Implementer of Agreements between the Regime and the Opposition

Red Crescent is the Sole Implementer of Agreements between the Regime and the Opposition
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 Arabic version


The Syrian Red Crescent (SRC) has played the role of mediator between the opposition and regime forces over the past two years. Despite the pitched battles and the considerable hostility between these parties, it succeeded in earning their trust and supervising the implementation of their agreements, in collaboration with the UN.


A Mediator of Swaps


A few days ago the Hama branch of the Red Crescent implemented a swap between the Free Syrian Army and the regime forces in Murig, in the northern countryside of Hama. A source close to the matter, who refused to mention his name for security purposes, discusses the negotiation mechanisms: “The security committee requested from the branch command that they open channels for communications with the opposition groups in the Hama countryside, after they conducted initial negotiations for delivering the bodies of a number of regime officers and rank officers who were killed in the battles of Murig.”



The source adds, “After prolonged communications, the opposition groups asked, in order to deliver the bodies, for the release of six detained women who are arrested in Hama prisons, and the regime accepted their condition. There was an agreement on the time and place along with a ceasefire. The Red Crescent provided the logistical equipment such as morgue fridges and ambulances. The detained women were released in the presence of opposition media activists, and the absence of any regime representatives in the swap area.”


Collaboration with the UN


The UN offices rely on the Red Crescent to supervise the process of bringing humanitarian aid into the besieged areas in Homs, especially Al Waer neighborhood which has been almost completely besieged by regime forces for more than two years. The delivery of aid to the besieged areas in Homs is often a joint mission between the Red Crescent and the UN. Omar Al Homsi, an activist, says, “We receive a message from the UN office in Damascus that there is a humanitarian convoy that will enter the neighborhood on a specific date. We try to request the aid as per our needs by contacting the Red Crescent in Homs and requesting specific items. On the implementation day, the Free Syrian Army groups make a ceasefire and get ready to bring the aid through the main route into the neighborhood, where there is excessive presence of regime forces.”


Al Homsi adds, “I witnessed many times a live shooting on the vehicles of the Red Crescent, which once caused an injury for the driver and the volunteer, and eventually the operation failed and was delayed. The population of the Al Waer neighborhood trusts the Red Crescent, its neutrality, and its attempts to do the best for helping us, despite the attempts of the regime to obstruct many of its activities.”


How is the humanitarian aid brought to the opposition held areas?


The instructions come from the Red Crescent headquarters that there is a humanitarian convoy that will be coming as per the plan for each province according to its needs. The branch management starts its exhausting process by contacting the regime and the opposition forces, the two parties who control the city of Aleppo.



A former volunteer says, “It starts with negotiating with the regime, since it is the most intransigent party on the issue of humanitarian aid. A contact with the security committee which is the highest power in the province that includes the heads of the security branches, military officials, and the governor, must be carried out. They are provided with the idea to be discussed in their meetings. Often they are rude when they deal with us. Then a contact is made with the local councils and civilian mediators in the opposition-held areas, along with the controlling military party in each area such as the Ahrar Al Sham movement, which is the supervising military party on the Bustan Al Qaser crossing point that separates the regime-held areas from opposition-held ones in the city. After all parties give approval, the intervention team prepares a work plan that includes the names of the volunteers and the route that will be taken for accomplishing the operation. When the operation is about bringing humanitarian aid, the security committee orders them to bring it to Nubbul and Al Zahraa cities, which are besieged by the Free Syrian Army groups, despite the fact that there are convoys allocated for these areas. A contact with the organization management should be carried out one more time, re-arrange the issues, and agree on the quantities that should be brought to each area. On the day of implementation, after the agreement is reached by all parties, and making sure that a ceasefire is conducted, the intervention team brings the aid through the crossing point at the bus station, by hand wagons that have the Red Crescent logo in order to avoid their being targeted. Furthermore, the branch supervises the operations of transporting the patients who are in dangerous situation from the opposition-held areas in order to be treated in Aleppo city hospitals. The regime often goes easy with these cases especially when the patients are women and old people. The branch’s volunteers try to follow up on these cases and provide them with support, both material and non-material, in the public hospitals of the university and Al Razi, or in the Red Crescent hospital, until they recover.”


Absence in ISIS areas



The SRC, despite their great and persistent efforts, and despite the paramount pressure from the UN office in Damascus, were not able to open channels of communications within ISIS areas of control, which deprived tens of thousands of civilians in the eastern rural area of Aleppo, rural Hasakeh rural, Deir al-Zor and Raqqa from receiving aid. Some circles close to the organization said that ISIS enacted a decree stating that, "It is forbidden to deal with any foreign or Syrian organization, for they are working on behalf of foreign entities." Ahmed al Dairi, an activist, told Suwar Magazine, "The reason behind the refusal of ISIS to deal with such organizations can be attributed to two main factors: First, the fear of any foreign  security breach by means of relief convoys, especially after their panic resulting from the international coalition strikes, and the second has to do with their wish to restrict the choices of the people under their control in order to force them to join ISIS due to poverty and lack of resources and aid accessing those areas."






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