Syrian mayor takes refuge in Turkey

Reporting by Erdal Turkoglu

HATAY - A Turkmen mayor in Syria, Hanefi Molla Ali, has taken refuge in Turkey after getting insulted and battered by the regime-supported Shabiha forces in Syria.

A mayor of the town of Kastal Maaf in Latakia city for the past one year, Molla Ali talked to the Anadolu Agency (AA) on what he went through in Syria.

Molla Ali, a mayor with ties to the Baath Party, said that he had to take refuge in Turkey four days ago due to the incidents in Syria.

"I was a mayor of a town with a population of 9,000 and that had 32 villages some of which were the villages of Alawites. I frequently visited the villages of the Alawites," Molla Ali stressed.

"I visited the villages again and again and met with civilians and officials supporting both sides. We have been living together for long years. I wanted to solve the problems without resorting to violence. However, the forces of Assad placed obstacles by provoking both sides. The state in Syria now only remains on paper. I worked for peace, dialogue and brotherhood in the Latakia region. The Assad forces did not permit my efforts," Molla Ali noted.

"In the past several days, Shabiha forces made a raid on our town. They searched everywhere. They detained a total of 16 people including me. I told them that I was the mayor. They then replied that they would detain me," Molla Ali stressed.

"16 of us were later taken to a prison in Latakia. When I expressed that I was a mayor, they in return told me that they would not touch me. We were getting questioned here one by one. As I sat at the questioning table, I noticed a Shabiha member standing behind me with a knife in his hand. Right at that moment a phone call came. The opposition forces told Shabiha forces that, unless we were released, they would attack the villages of Latakia. Upon receiving the phone call, Shabiha forces took us to a pickup truck and continued to insult us. During our journey, they kicked my neck. They took away our mobile phones and money and left us at a spot far from the town," Molla Ali stressed.

"At first, I sent my family to Turkey. I waited for a while so I could deposit the salaries of our workers. I escaped to Turkey four days ago after signing the documents necessary for the salaries of our workers," Molla Ali said.

"A bomb was dropped right by our house. The town of Kastal Maaf is completely empty now," Molla Ali indicated.

-"Sharp shooters not Syrian"-

"As a mayor, I visited Syrian troops from time to time," Molla Ali stated.

"The sharp shooters at the roofs of military outposts were not Syrian," Molla Ali argued.

"I saluted some of the sharp shooters but could not understand the language of some of them. The sharp shooters did not talk with us. They did not make any reaction when we saluted them so as not to be uncovered. I understood that they were not Syrians as they did not react. Syria has turned into a state of gangs. The Baas Party, led by Assad, manages everything in Syria. There is no longer a Syrian state. Shabiha forces supported by the Baas Party are free to do whatever they wish to do. I witnessed how Shabiha forces make fun of governors, sub-governors, and high level police officers. Shabiha forces neither listen to governors nor sub-governors," Molla Ali underlined.

-"Assad lost more than half of his stronghold Latakia"-

"Every passing second carries Assad to his end. Assad has lost great strength in Latakia," Molla Ali noted.

"Only 30 percent of Syria is still under Assad’s control. Assad has lost many big cities. The situation in his home city of Latakia is no different. Assad has lost more than half of his stronghold Latakia," Molla Ali said.

"Civilian supporters in Latakia are getting armed. Everything is ready in Latakia for a massacre. Turkmen and Sunni Arab villages have been surrounded by tanks. The Latakia region is rich ethnically and with its sects and has a mixed population. Christians, Alawites, Turkmens, Arabs and Sunnis are here together. Assad is trying to cause clashes. I do hope that a serious clash does not take place there," Molla Ali expressed.

"We want to live in Syria with all its (ethnic) richness. We have lived together with humans from different religions and sects for years and want to continue to live in Syria with brotherly feelings," Molla Ali stated.

"We are grateful to Turkey for its humanitarian assistance to the Syrians. The people in Syria need items such as bread, water and medicines urgently," Molla Ali also said.

Copyright © 2012 Anadolu Agency