Gaetan Vannay of Radio Swiss Broadcast Corp. made a visit to Hama, Syria at the worst possible time (or best depending on your perspective) to report first hand on what was happening (read more from Vannay and others here). He did an interview with RMC.fr that was kindly translated by @PrincessLayl:
Hama, a symbol of revolt
Hama is a city wounded by the oppression of Assad’s regime. In one week, 300 people died in the attacks from security forces, which are now besieging the city. However, a journalist managed to get in. Gaetan Vannay, reporter for Radio Suisse Romande, talked to RMC.
Hama in Syria, became the symbol of bloody repression from the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. Within a week, hundreds of people died in the city. Tanks are positioned in strategic places of the city, nothing gets in or out of the city anymore.
140 people were dead on July 31st
Since March 15th, 2100 people died in Syria and July 31st the army launched a wide operation against Hama during which 140 people were killed. Gaetan Vannay was there: “It started on that Sunday morning, at 4:30 am. Tanks took up positions all around the city and Hama inhabitants had organized a surveillance of these troops in order to know what was about to happen, and anticipate what finally occurred, because everyone suspected that these tanks would enter the city at some point. At 4:30 am, these watchmen gave the signal, which was the scream “Allah Akbar,” God is Great. At that moment, inhabitants had put up barricades in the city, along the big axes, to slow down the tanks.”
“A poor defense system”
Gaetan Vannay also noted the will of Hama inhabitants to not let the city be invaded by security forces without doing anything: “The barricades were quite derisory, made of construction material, bricks and scrap metal, one or two wrecked cars, or tires that were set on fire as soon as the signal was given to let off a black smoke, that weighed upon the whole city that Sunday morning. (…) Obviously this defense system was derisory. Tanks entered, took up positions in strategic places of the city’s daily life, in crossing points. From then on, soldiers shot with light weapons on Hama inhabitants that they saw passing in their line of sight. They also shot with heavier weapons, these big machine-guns placed on tanks. Now and then, they would also use the tank itself to shoot homes.”
Bashar Al-Assad talks about armed terrorist gangs. Are terrorists running the city?
“In the 10 days I spent in the city before the tanks entered, I arrived in Hama on July 21st, I only witnessed 10 days of daily demonstrations, in the evenings, except on Friday, when they took place in the afternoon, and were completely peaceful, perfectly organized to stay that way, structured in order to remain like that and without overflows. There were even organization committees and in these committees, there were people here to calm down families that had already lost people, martyrs, like they call them here, to tell these families, angrier than others, that wanted to take up arms, that they wanted a peaceful revolution: ‘we don’t want any weapon, we don’t want any outbreak’.”
“I didn’t hear any gunshot”
“Personally, I haven’t seen any gang, in these 10 days. I only saw peaceful demonstrations. I didn’t hear any gunshot. The first ones I heard, were when tanks entered the city and not a single Hama inhabitant told me about such gangs or such terrorist like the government of Bashar Al-Assad calls them. From my experience, from what I lived, arguments presented by the government of Bashar Al-Assad are completely fallacious.”