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Kafranbel Residents Keep Revolutionary Spirit Alive

Kafranbel Residents Keep Revolutionary Spirit Alive

Friday, 30 November, 2018 - 09:15
Mourners attend the funeral of Raed Fares in the village of Kafranbel in the northwestern province of Idlib on November 23, 2018. Muhammad HAJ KADOUR / AFP
Kafranbel - Asharq Al-Awsat
Gunmen may have killed their most charismatic activist, but Syrians in Kafranbel are determined to keep the northwestern town's revolutionary spirit alive.

The gunning down of Raed Fares on Friday was the latest blow to what remains of the dwindling civil society movement that rose up against Bashar al-Assad in 2011, Agence France Presse reported.

"We lost Raed Fares but he represented an idea that will not die," 26-year-old activist Abdallah al-Dani said, standing in front of a wall of graffiti calling for freedom.

Seven years into a brutal civil war, Kafranbel lies in the last major rebel bastion in the country, and is controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, previously known as al-Nusra Front.

But its walls are still daubed with brightly colored murals, reflecting the town's worldwide renown as a bastion of protest throughout the uprising.

Kafranbel, up in the province of Idlib on the Turkish border, was one of the first to join in as revolutionary fervor spread across Syria in 2011.

"It was the spark for the revolution in the north, a candle in oppressed northern Syria," said Dani, wearing a winter jacket to keep out the cold.

As protests spiraled into war, in 2012 Kafranbel was rocked by fighting between regime fighters and defectors from Assad's army, soon slipping out of the government's control.

Fares, who died aged 46, was among those to have run-ins with the HTS, after he set up a popular radio station named Fresh FM in 2013.

When HTS tried to ban him from broadcasting music two years ago, he fought back with barnyard noises.

"He decided to air the noises of animals such as birds or cockerels instead," says Bayush.

Often in creative ways, Kafranbel's people have stood up for what they believe is right.

In 2014, the town's women sewed together a 75-meter-long version of the three-star flag of the uprising, and paraded it down its streets.

Even following the killing of Fares with fellow activist Hamod Jnaid, which sparked a flurry of tributes on social media, the town's residents say they will keep up the fight.

After almost eight years of war, "our determination has only increased," said Bayush, despite admitting he was a little fearful over a recent spate of killings and kidnappings in the province.

"We'll carry on until the regime falls and we get the rights we have been demanding from the beginning," he said.

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