Nadine Elali

Hezbollah has taken my son from me

Mohamad Dekkou talks to NOW about the siege of Tfeil and his son's death by Hezbollah sniper fire

Led by vehicles of the Lebanese Red Cross, a convoy of aid heads towards the village of Tufeil, close to Lebanon

“I’m happy,” said Mohamad Dekkou, as he wiped his tears, “my son is a martyr; he died an honorable death defending his town - when no one else did.”


It was NOW’s fourth encounter with Dekkou, who for the past 10 months has dedicated his life to raising awareness about the situation in his hometown Tfeil; a Lebanese village besieged in Syrian territory. This time, however, his story was one of loss and disappointment. 


The long and porous border region between Lebanon and Syria is comprised largely of Sunni Muslim towns, Tfeil among them, and residents there sympathize with the Sunni-led uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.


The influx of Syrian refugees into Tfeil increased in the wake of battles in Syria’s Qalamoun region. According to residents, an estimated 10,000 refugees are living among them with no shelter, food, or aid.


“They don’t want us to take in refugees,” said Dekkou, “but we are tribes and we are related to one another in some way. Many of us have intermarried. I have many relatives in the Syrian border towns. Moreover, our values do not permit us to disregard the helpless when they seek refuge in our homes. We know their pain,” Dekkou stressed. “We, too, struggle with the Syrian regime.”


Dekkou says the village and its people continued to suffer harassment after the Syrian army withdrew from Lebanon in 2005. He tells NOW that a couple of years ago, before the Syrian uprising began, the Syrian army frequently besieged the town and refused to end the blockade until the town’s residents paid extortion money.


“This would happen often,” he explained. “One time, the officer in charge requested that we buy him a four wheel drive vehicle with the money, instead, and two motorbikes for his sons. My cousin Mowafaq Hussein Dekkou refused, so they killed him.”


In a bid to rid the region of rebel fighters, the Syrian regime launched an aerial bombardment campaign against civilians in Tfeil in late June. Hezbollah launched a ground operation.


“I informed the authorities, but no one would listen to me. I have been calling on the Lebanese state to deploy its forces in the village and on the border for years now,” said Dekkou, “and for the past 10 months, I’ve knocked on many doors; officials, politicians, and clerics – anyone you can think of – but to no avail. At times, I’ve even been humiliated. I was told they had better things to do than listen to me.”


Besides being geographically isolated from Lebanon, residents claim that the village has also been neglected by the state. They have no schools, no hospitals, nor electricity or municipality, and no Lebanese army or ISF presence to maintain security. After months of calls for help, residents warned authorities that if they did not respond, they were going to take matters into their own hands. They would not allow Hezbollah to take over their village. There were already locals fighting alongside Syrian opposition forces in Rankous, Asal al-Ward, and Hosh Arab. Tfeil’s residents would to do the same. They all have weapons; they would fight back.


Dekkou’s son, Mohanad, stayed in the village throughout these events, along with his brothers and a group of young friends. The 27-year-old was engaged to be married. He plastered walls and laid tiles and built his own home, looking forward to the day when these troubles would end and he could be married.  


“I asked him and his brothers to leave,” said Dekkou. “He refused. The women and children had evacuated the town but the Syrian refugees remained. He told me he was not going to leave without them; that either we would all leave together or die together.”


Earlier this month it was reported that the Syrian army and Hezbollah forces had occupied the entire village, but residents continued to resist. Then, some days ago, Dekkou received a phone call. Mohanad had been hurt in the fighting. A few minutes later, he learned that his son had been shot in the head by a sniper. He was dead.


“What excuse do they have for killing my son?” asked Dekkou. “My son is not an Islamist or a terrorist or a Syrian takfiri fighter. He is Lebanese and he was just protecting his home.”  


“They accuse us of harboring terrorists to justify the war they are waging against us. There is no war on terror on the border. The war is between Hezbollah and Sunnis,” says Dekkou. “Hezbollah has hijacked my country; Hezbollah has destroyed my village; and Hezbollah has taken my son away from me.”

Dekkou says women and children evacuated before Hezbollah occupied the entire village. (AFP Photo/STR)

My son is not an Islamist nor is he a Syrian takfiri fighter. He is Lebanese and he was just protecting his home.”

  • manjarola

    Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s nephew was killed in Syria during battles with rebel groups, Lebanese media reports said Saturday. In a statement issued late Friday, Hezbollah said Hamzah Yassine, whom it described as hailing from the southern Lebanese town of Abbasieh, was killed while performing his “jihadist duty defending Holy sites.”

    July 26, 2014