The residents of the village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights became Israeli residents overnight. Ever since that moment, 44 years ago, many have dreamt of the day they would go back to living under Syrian sovereignty.
The recent whirlwind sweeping through Syria – and the biggest challenge Bashar Assad has had to face since taking power 11 years ago – has raised many speculations among family members living on the other side of the border.
Majdal Shams resident Dr. Waseef Qatar said he speaks to his relatives and friends in Quneitra, Damascus, Daraa and Jabal al-Druze on a daily basis.
"They told me that most protesters are supporting Assad and that only 10% of Syrians oppose the regime," he told Ynet
Dr. Qatar noted that anti-government forces are acting covertly in order to destabilize the regime and overthrow Assad.
Dozens of people have reportedly been killed in clashes with security forces since unrest began spreading in the country a week and a half ago.
Assad sent his advisors to announce the planned reforms, but has yet to appear personally in public, despite being scheduled to carry a speech on Sunday.
The United States strongly condemned the brutal use of force against protesters, while many equated recent events to the massacre carried out by former President Hafez Assad, Bashar's father, in the city of Hama during the 80s, in which tens of thousands of regime opponents were killed.
'Afraid of street gangs.' Soldiers in Latakia (Photo: AP)
'Protesting for domestic changes'
"My friends in Syria told me that the protesters said the aim of the demonstrations was to bring about domestic changes and depose Assad; however many realize that there is an attempt to stir ethnic conflict and destabilize the regime for the benefit of Israel and the West," Dr. Qatar claimed.
According to the Majdal Shams resident, many of the demonstrators who initially rallied against Assad changed their minds after realizing that the motives behind the protests were impure.
"My relatives and friends in Syria are not afraid, and the only thing that concerns them is the gangs that roam the streets trying to recruit supporters with violent measures," he said.
Majdal Shams resident Imad Meri, a journalist originally from a town near Damascus, told Ynet, "My mother's family still lives in the village where I was born, and we call them every day to get informed about the political situation over there.
"They say that there are a lot of baseless rumors going around, and that protesters are battling against corruption, and not in order to overthrow the regime," he explained.
Meri noted that demonstrators are aware of the existence of elements that are trying to "exploit the situation" and undermine the government.
"Syria will continue to stand firm against the Israeli occupation," he concluded.
Rasan Salman Shaalan from the northern village of Ein Qiniyye said, "Our families in Syria are convinced that all the anti-government protests are backed by the United States and Israel. We are showing our solidarity with the Syrian people, and it is very important to us that Assad remains in power, without ignoring the people's call for a dignified life."
Meanwhile, an eyewitness on Monday reported that security forces fired tear gas on thousands of anti-government protesters in southern Syria.
According to the report up to 4,000 people were protesting in Daraa, calling for more political freedoms.
The eyewitness said security forces fired tear gas at first, and gunfire was also heard, although it appears security forces were shooting in the air.
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