Syrian Guerrilla Warfare, by TRUE

A word from OFF THE WALL

Although personally I strongly oppose armed actions by the revolution or by anyone supporting the revolution. It seems that the regime has succeeded in pushing some of its own soldiers as well as other factions into armed action. Whether we like it or not, there are fights going on, and while the peaceful protest continues, and continue to be met with brute force whenever the regime can still do so, a parallel line has emerged and it is gaining strength. This article by TRUE is an attempt to understand the tactics of the armed factions. The subject is off course a controversial one, but it is important that Syrians of all stripes discuss it, especially in light of the brutal demise of a brutal man Qaddafi. I believe we are going to have a heated debate on the merit or follies of armed actions against a regime that is far better equipped than anything an armed faction can attain, in the absence of external intervention, which is rejected by the largest segment of the Opposition, including myself. Please read the article and please let us keep the discussion as civilized as it has been since we started gathering around 7ee6an.

Syrian Guerrilla Warfare, by TRUE

Ali Ferzat cartoon about army split in Syria

Once more, Ali Ferzat had something to say about our topic. The word under the tank says "Defections"

All roads lead to  Rome  and all tactics and strategies implemented by the current Syrian regime seem to lead to an inescapable civil war. The Syrian revolution 2011 took a sharp twist when some of its participants adopted the concept of guerrilla warfare in response to the regime’s brutal security based crack down. For the last seven months or so the Syrian protesters have done their best to paint and maintain their popular movement as peaceful “Sylmiah” as they could. Such a tactic, undeniably, brought them a great deal of respect and international support, in fact only “verbal” support. In return, the current regime did not respond back with roses or water, words or serious dialog with the protesters, but, to the contrary, with iron and weapons killing more than 3000 martyrs, arresting 43250 and 12430 reported “missing” and everyone knows what does “missing” mean in al-ASSAD kingdom.

On the one hand, and as they emerged, the Free Syrian Army [الجيش السوري الحر] (FSA) and the Syrian National Council (SNC)  concepts are emerging and developing slowly and are yet to harmonise and gain more weight on the ground. On the other hand, the guerrilla warfare remains the “de facto” which causes the regime the real deal of pain. The level of pain is demonstrated through different forms and shapes, from having cities and villages completely out of control, bleeding the regime’s resources, jeopardizing its image and hindering its confidence. Inescapably, the guerrilla warfare will be the drive to unite all efforts and entities to oust the current regime.

There are three main guerrilla warfare tactics (Human waveCu Chi tunnels and Foco). Although the mass demonstrations calling for toppling the regime might suggest “human Wave” tactic, however, in reality, these crowds are not armed and are purely peaceful protesters. A quick glance at the current situation suggests that the Syrian armed rebels are divided into small fragmented and independent units which operate individually on sting –run methodology.  This allows them to minimise casualties from their side giving their lack the firepower. On the other hand, by examining the geographical nature of Syrian cities, we can safely assume it’s not “Cu Chi Tunnels” tactic (which was used by Hizboallah in Southern Lebanon).

To date, the apparent code of conduct of the Syrian guerrilla warfare leads to one conclusion of (Urban-Foco) tactic. Originally, Foco was about mobilising irregular armed civilians to launch attacks o}n formal troops from rural areas, and then return back to remote villages where fighters could melt and disappear amongst locals. However, since 1960 there was a new trend and shift in implementation strategies leading to what is now called “Urban-Foco” where guerrilla warfare combat operations (ambush, raid, and sniper operations) are conducted in urban environments and the guerrilla fighters return to their urban bases among sympathizing population. The Syrian case can be measured and compared against other similar case studies such as the Irish Republican Army, the Mujahideen in  Afghanistan , the Che chen Rebels in  Grozny .

“The urbanized strategic environment provides a fertile environment for Unconventional Warfare. The battleground where Unconventional Warfare will be conducted is no longer just the inaccessible terrain of rural areas. It is also located within the increasing urban sprawl occurring worldwide. Urbanization may require the development of new skills and core competencies. (DA 2001a, 2-10)”

“The Soviet Army positioned outposts along all major roads and was especially active in pacifying the Northern provinces between Kabuland and Termez. Even so, the Kabul regime faced enormous difficulties in ensuring the personal security of its own officials, who were often subject to attacks within the capital itself. The resistance network in Kabul repeatedly carried out shootings, bombings, and assassinations. (Baumann 1993, 136)”

“The Che chen s were extremely effective during small unit battles with the Russian forces by utilizing methods with which the Russians were either unfamiliar or unable to counter. Using the tactic of “hugging” the rebels would stay close to the Russian units as they moved to avoid indirect fire and keep at close range (Thomas 1999).”

“Where the Russians fought to control and hold the territory, the rebels fought to make controlling and holding the territory as unpleasant as possible—a very different mission, and one far more difficult both to grasp and to counter. (Oliker 2001, 73)”

Personally speaking, in a little while, I believe the Syrian guerrilla warfare will be forced to amalgamate its units, define political goals and firmly establish political responsibilities, and that’s where the big picture of SFA & SNC starts coming together. On that line, Mao Tse-tung defines certain fundamental steps necessary for guerrilla warfare in the realization of policy and political agenda which I find quite applicable to our Syrian scenario as follows

  1. Arousing and organizing the people.
  2. Achieving internal unification politically.
  3. Establishing bases.
  4. Equipping forces.
  5. Recovering national strength.
  6. Destroying enemy’s national strength.
  7. Regaining lost territories.

Finally, I leave you with a quote to the soul of freedom fighters “Che Cuevara” to think and reflect on

“Why does the guerrilla fighter fight? We must come to the inevitable conclusion that the guerrilla fighter is a reformer, that he takes up arms responding to the angry protest of the people against their oppressors, and that he fights in order to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery.”

Che Guevara


Posted on October 21, 2011, in Arab Spring, Bashar Al-Assad, Posts by Friends and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 284 Comments.

  1. Majed Khaldoun

    Husam asked how the no fly zone will help
    Do you believe that if the people carry arms, the Shabbiha will defeat the armed people? the answer has to be NO,obviously the regime has to use the army and the airforce,this will be escalation,and massive killing will be the next step,the threat of such escalation is sure to force the UN to protect the people and so the situation will call for bombing the tanks and the missile launchers, in other word there will be domino effect,and we will end up in situation like Libya.,where no fly zone and protective area is needed,

  2. @ Majed Khaldoun,

    Habeeb, Syria is not Libya, they can’t do massive shelling (like they did in Hama). And, even if they did as you say, it wouldn’t last more than a week because, in my view that would seal their fate and the Syrians inside Syria who are now on the sideline, will join the revolution in bigger numbers and the rest is history.

    Majed, the Airforce is useless chasing people in alleys and without intellegence it is worthless anyway.

    Even if you have the biggest gun in the world and you have 1 million poeple marching against you, you are dead beat. If there were 5,000 “active & armed” defected soldiers (in groups of 50-100 with communications and intellegence support, you can outrun the shabiha in no time. Something tells me that the shabiha cowards will pee their pants if they thought they could be shot at. Aboud may no better. BTW Aboud, can’t you sniper a sniper. Or throw nails on a convoy and immobilize their vehicles? Special ops?

  3. Sorry guys I have to disappear for few days, my mum had a stroke and she’s in the ICU now.
    Your prayers are needed.

  4. True : May Allah hasten your mother’s recovery.

    Aboud : what is the disposition of Christians in Homs nowadays ? Have they finally become pro-opposition ? I understand Christains are 15 % in Homs and about 25 % of the population in Rastan, in Ratsan they are passively aiding the opposition, what abt Homs

  5. Aboud, do the FSA have snipers ?

    Also, have ordinary civilians joined the FSA ? Have ordinary civiians received military training ?


    Dear True
    Our thoughts are wit you and your family.

  7. Dear True, Bon courage; my prayers are with your mother and you and Syria always

  8. Dear True
    Sorry haven’t been showing around much lately. I hope your mother gets better.


  9. True : Be with her as much as possible, that is the most important thing because at times like this her knowing that you care so much will speed up her recovery. Been there, done that. Inshallah alf salameh.

  10. This blog is the new face of the New Syria.

    One big family, were we can express our thought with out fear of being marginalized. Were apologizing is not a sign of weakness. Were ideas are exchanged in a civilized discussion. With one common goal, working together to the betterment of the collective, an open mind, ear and eyes. All this with out relinquishing any of our principles or values.

    حيطان Walls, is prototype of a Syria I longed for.

    True, our thoughts are with you and your mother.

  11. True, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Please let us know how things go.

    Khaled, civilians haven’t joined the FSA. Groups of soldiers who know each other work and operate with each other. The moment you let civilians in, military discipline is at risk and you don’t know how reliable they may be.

    I haven’t taken a poll of Homsi Christians. But anyone who claims they are all rabidly pro regime is a raving lunatic.

  12. Interesting that Hama is out back in force again. Not a good development for the regime, if towns they had invaded are just going to come out again after a month.

    The demonstrations this week were very widespread and large. I wish the diplomatic efforts of the National Council were equal to the magnificent resilience of the Syrian people.

    Every demo the regime has orchestrated doesn’t come to a fraction of what the opposition can turn out in one week 🙂

  13. Im just watching again the Friday speech of Sheikh Yaqoubi from earlier this year. If Im correct this was the speech that resulted in the Sheikh’s dismissal as speaker at the mosque. The speech is a reminder for all of us.

    If you are interested here is the video. It has english subtitles.

    The Syrian Uprising. The problem and the solution.
    Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi
    Damascus, Syria,
    6th May 2011.

  14. Dear True

    Prayers for you and your mother. I hope all turns out to be OK. Please spend as much as possible time with her and be your best.

  15. True

    I pray your Mother has a quick and full recovery InshaAllah.

  16. @ N.Z.

    “One big family, were we can express our thought with out fear of being marginalized. Were apologizing is not a sign of weakness. Were ideas are exchanged in a civilized discussion. With one common goal, working together to the betterment of the collective, an open mind, ear and eyes. All this with out relinquishing any of our principles or values.”

    I don’t know how long you have been an Expat, but for me sometimes I feel like we are authentic (if there is such a thing) in our values because we left our sweet home decades ago. Syria has changed (nouveau riche, etc) while many of us Expats have not.

    Something fortunate to think about…

  17. I rarely surf SC nowadays, but thought I would peek there and see what is going on. Big mistake. After scrolling down skimming through, I paused to see what Josh posted regarding what Ehsani had to say. I got a sick feeling and realized once again that people will not change.

    Ehsani said: “The ayatollahs took over and promised the moon. In my opinion they have failed just like the current crop of “islam is the solution” crowd will most likely fail. But, try they will and may be try they must before the region’s next phase sees the light of day. In the meantime, the best we may hope for is that Turkish style rather than salafi style end up rising to the top should a change of the exisiting order actually materialize.”

    To me his hatred of Islam is clear even though he tries to hide it behind his writing eloquence. He equates the failures of ayatollahs with Sunni Syria! We are just crop of Islamist (aren’t you guys tired of the word) with the same doom and gloom. Geez, “try they will, try the must”… meaning they will “try” but unlikely to succeed because we need to wait for the next phase to see light. That is total bullshit. Then he goes on for Turkish rather than Salafi style. The word “salafi” in Syria was unheard of before the revolution.

    OTW, do you hear me? Stop covering for Ehsani, I knew from day one when he sided for his idol Elhadj that he was a closet-islamaphobe.

    I am trying hard not to dig back into SC and show this bigot character in the mirror.

  18. I’ve only visited SC once, when you guys linked a post Joshua made. That website is a shadow of what it once was. Giving the reins to Alex was a disaster the website will not soon recover from.

    The paragraph you quoted from Ehsani didn’t make much sense to me. Does he believe that the revolution is inspired by hardline Islam? He would be mistaken in that regard. None of the slogans at the demonstrations have been remotely Islamist.

    I’m giving serious thought to starting up a collection for Besho. The poor guy can only afford one orchestrated demonstration a week, and now he has to pay for something to keep Imad Mustapha busy.

  19. @husam

    If you want to take in some other debates on that bias going on- not that one really has to go back that far, but my own attempts to point out the obvious… re otrakji appear here:

  20. Thanks for that link Zenobia. I love looking back at what was said three or four months ago. Time and events have not been kind at all to Alex, when seen with the 20/20 vision one always has in hindsight 🙂

  21. Zenobia@

    Thanks for that post. I actually skimmed that post back in May, but there no or few comments then. It is really interesting now; I spent no less than an hour sifting through the comments.

    What are we doing Zenobia? I mean what’s the point… to spend hours on end arguing with people who refuse to see the big picture or who are set in their ways. Alex, Ehsani, SNK, Tlass, Elhadj, SNP and a few dozen others are solidly comfortable in their skin. Perhaps they have an inferiority complex, or it is just me.

    How can anyone feel anything but sick seeing people dying…the last few minutes through amateur phone videos.

    Before the first 200 deaths, I was trying to find every excuse to deny what was happening because I just couldn’t believe it. I was pulling all kinds of conspiracy theories imagineable. I then started to hear outlandish claims by the likes of JAD (and few others, I can’t remember now). And then I woke up man. Every once in a while I slip up, and then I straighten up again because the stuff that is going on is just so obvious.

    How can these guys keeping defending it…is beyond me. And, the Islamist-niqabi-clad card is still played. Ehsani, who already deemed anything involving Islam will be a failure before it even starts reminds me of why people left Syria in the first place…he can’t because I can’t, which means it ain’t going to happen. This kind of mentality is not what Syria needs no matter how clever a banker one is.

  22. @Aboud

    You are right, I never saw the mass invoking religion or jihad of any sort. I mean if anything, now it is the time for jihad (struggle) to stop the killing and rid of evil, yet I hear nothing but freedom, down with regime, etc….

  23. أربع عشرة حقيقة لفهم ظاهرة الثورة السورية:خالص جلبي

  24. I don’t know. I really don’t know. Camille was my friend. I actually considered him my real friend- not just ‘internet’ friend, even though we don’t know each other that personally. But six years of talking and talking and respecting each other.
    And, really, I like SC very much in 2005 to 2007. but – I relate very much with Off the Walls account of his own shift in perspective described in the first post here “how it all started”… very similar feelings in terms of shifting perspective. I trusted Otrakji’s judgment on many things, and as a person. But when the guns and the tanks came out…and it was obvious to anyone regardless of the level of confusion or some convoluted back story, that people who don’t deserve to be killed are being killed, because nothing can excuse, not matter what political ideology you have…. as a basic human rights issue, bottom line…. people you would never expect are defending that.
    I can’t explain it. My friend. Some of my relatives. Till now even. And I just don’t get it.
    I also – found it fascinating to go back over that post again after many months. I let him have it with my best confrontation in #197 – just tell me I am wrong..about you. Tell me you are not making the justification it seems you are making… simple as can be.
    But he never did. He just ignored me cause I said he lost his moral compass. but he never refuted the charge i was making.
    Anyhow, I didn’t want to lose my friend. I still don’t want to think Joshua Landis was/is as at fault as some claim. i want to think the best of people who started out – with seemingly good motives for doing what they do and participating in so much dialoguing. but I am not sure what is at state for them or why some people don’t see their own prejudice. These are most – not people with any crude motivation or benefit from arguing what they are arguing. I just think they are denying certain prejudices.

    It is scary because these are not some poor isolated folk in a mountain village. So, what will be done about the hostility and bias and paranoia of those type… what is going to happen.

    I also diagnosed the problem to OFT many months ago – as being a direct transmission – a projection really from across 6000 miles of the hostility and anger and paranoia and confusion being pumped into the atmosphere by the security apparatus. They are hoping with all their hearts that Syrians with be polarized and start to fear and hate each other and stop being able to talk and end in confusion and deadlock, so that nobody can work together against the read source of the terror and fears. This is the nature and purpose of the projection. And it actually was working in these small ways…. that suddenly we can even lose our friends we thought we knew, or be angry at frustrated with family or disgusted to the point of ceasing to communicate with each other. I keep trying to tell myself that to walk away or stop discussing is to give in to the goal of those – entities – working for this. That we all have to resist as much as we can – and try to reach each other and work together. That is the challenge to bridge these divides. Some of them are damaged beyond repairs, but I am hoping not to have more casualties, so to speak, and to keep the lines of communication open. It is hard work, especially over computers, or in virtual world, but we have to keep trying.

  25. Dear Husam,
    I do not need to defend EHSANI, he is more than capable of defending himself if he chooses so. I do however believe that you may have misread Ehsani’s comment as I myself have misread you in the past. Some of my answers are forthcoming in a new post.

  26. It’s the “Saif Qaddafi” syndrome; civilized and liberal until push comes to shove and we are then required to make real world decisions, instead of discussing theoretical scenarios.

  27. There was alot of explosions and gunfire in Homs from 6am until around 10, then it cooled down a bit, with just the occasional gunfire and explosion.

  28. Dear Husam,
    Ihsani is no Islamophobe. He is a pragmatist realist. You formed an opinion about him a while ago and now you are trying to fit everything he says within that framework that you created in your mind. You are reading too much into his phrase. He is plainly saying that the Islamists are going to take over for sure and he is hoping that they would be of the moderated kind. By the way, I also used to think that the Salafis are the product of the regime’s imagination, until I watched an interview with the head of a Salafi group in Syria called almouslimoun yousharekoun. His name was Zouabi, from Daraa. He was interviewed by Gisele from Studio Beirut in Alrabiyah. While you and I were living in the West, the Salafis were getting stronger in Syria. Husam, I can tell you that the level of backwardness that the Sunni Muslims have reached is beyond belief. Anyone who knows Syria today should be very alarmed if the Islamists took over. This is when Syria will literally be taken back into the stone age. Please make the distinction between Islam, a religion that was a major breakthrough when it started, and today’s Muslims who happen to be very uneducated and backwards (the majority). I join Ihsani in hoping for the moderates to take over.

  29. Dear True,
    I hope your mother gets well soon. We are all with you.

  30. Zenobia,

    Your observations about Syria Comment are really interesting. I have to agree with your assessment. But the Jewish community here (AIG, Amir in TA, and myself) sort of new that there was something wrong with the Assad clan even before the Arab Spring sprung.

    Any self-appointed leader who has to prohibit free speech and elections can’t last very long.

    Question for you or anyone else: Can you explain to a layman such as myself why Turkey still honors a Syrian ambassador in Ankara, but not an Israeli ambassador?

    And now an little anecdote:

    I just met the following person who is originally from a little town in Israel called Tira. This Israeli-American leads a small company here in the US. Notice his educational accomplishments. I’ll tell you, those Israelis are hard workers.;)

  31. AP

    “Question for you or anyone else: Can you explain to a layman such as myself why Turkey still honors a Syrian ambassador in Ankara, but not an Israeli ambassador?”

    Because Israel bashing comes at no cost to the Turks, and is popular in the Arab world, while taking concrete actions against a neighboring murderous dictator entails risks and costs, which Erdogan is too timid to see through.

    Erdogan seems to be the only politician on the planet who doesn’t seem to know that when you talk tough to a dictator, you need to carry through your threats, otherwise all you’ve done is embolden him. Thanks for nothing, idiot.

  32. Syrian People should back off at the moment. It seems that outside forces have heavily armed the opposition for regime change. It’s not going to help Syrian people revolt in this time. Look at the situation in Egypt and Libya. I thik current regime has got the message and I am sure they will do the necessary to rectify the situation.

  1. Pingback: Debate among Syrians « band annie's Weblog

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