MESOP NEWS : THANKS TO MADAME MERKEL – We have now a healthier and more homogeneous society in Syria – General Zahreddine
Reinforcing a statement by Bashar al-Assad in late August, the leading regime general Issam Zahreddine has told refugees not to return to Syria.
Zahreddine, one of the most celebrated figures among Assad supporters, has led the defense against the Islamic State in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria, where the regime military has been surrounded and besieged since 2014. Last week, advancing pro-Assad forces made contact with the regime units in western Deir ez-Zor city and at the nearby military airport.
During an interview marking the lifting of the siege, Zahreddine said: I am addressing everyone who left or fled from Syria to any other country: please (sarcastic) do not come back to Syria because [even] if the State forgives you, we promise that we will not forget and we will not forgive.
An advice from my chin: nobody returns to Syria.
The comment appears to complement Assad’s statement, in a speech on August 20 to officials of the Foreign Ministry, praising the departure of some Syrians: “We have lost our best youth and our infrastructure, but we won a healthier and more homogeneous society.”
Assad’s reference to homogeneity has raised questions over the regime’s line that it welcomes Syrian of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, including the Sunni Muslims who make up the majority of the country’s populations. The country’s leadership has been dominated for almost 50 years by a small elite around the Assad family, who belong to the Alawite sect.
The regime’s defenders have tried to argue that Assad’s remark was both poorly translated and was actually a statement promoting a common attitude rejecting sectarianism.
As pro-Assad forces have retaken territory — and as pro-Assad, Kurdish-led, and Turkish-supported rebel forces have all pushed back the Islamic State — about 500,000 Syrians have returned to their home areas this year. However, only about 45,000 have been returning refugees, according to the UN. www.mesop.de