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NOW

Rebels drop leaflets over
Syrian capital from drones

Jaysh al-Islam's operation was the first opposition operation of its kind since the start of the Syrian civil war.

Damascus. (YouTube/Jaysh al-Islam)

BEIRUT – The most powerful rebel group operating around Damascus has flown drones over the Syrian capital, reportedly dropping propaganda leaflets in the first opposition operation of the kind since the start of the civil war.

 

Pro-rebel media outlet covered the unprecedented incident Thursday, with All4Syria claiming that “modified reconnaissance aircraft” belonging to Jaysh al-Islam “cruised the skies of Damascus and dropped leaflets, [mostly] on the eastern neighborhoods” of the capital.

 

Pro-regime media made no mention of the leaflets, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights tracking developments in the war-torn country did not report on the purported incident.

 

Jaysh al-Islam has yet to issue a statement on the matter, however officials in the insurgent faction spoke with opposition outlets on the alleged operation.

 

Hamzeh Bayrakdar, a spokesperson for Jaysh al-Islam’s general staff, told Syria Mubasher news that the drones dropped “20,000 leaflets” over a number of Damascus areas: including the famed Old City, the upscale Muhajireen quarter near the presidential palace, and the Aash al-Warour district on the foothills of Mount Qasioun.

 

The spokesperson claimed that the aircraft returned safely to their take-off points, adding further that they weren’t exposed to anti-aircraft fire since they took regime forces by “surprise.”

 

Jaysh al-Islam demonstrated its ability to operate surveillance drones over the Syrian capital in early February, when it released a startling video of aerial footage of Damascus—including government-controlled areas in the center of the city.

 

Leaflets

A picture of the leaflets purportedly dropped on Damascus. (Twitter)

 

Images of the leaflets spread across social media accounts of Jaysh al-Islam members and supporters.

 

“Very soon, the liberated Damascus will welcome you!” one of the leaflets boasted.

 

“The Army of Islam is coming with thousands of Mujahideen [at] the walls of the city, we will reinstate the right to its owners,” a different leaflet warned.

 

Another of the propaganda messages called on Damascus residents to turn against the regime: “The Terrorist and sectarian-minded Bashar doesn’t care about you, He doesn’t care about your blood! What are you waiting for!”

 

Yet another message sought to remind its intended recipients of the heavy-death toll of conflict, saying, “Do not allow the slaughterer to lead away your sons to kill and terrorize innocent people.”

 

NOW’s English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language source material.

Aerial footage of Damascus shot by a Jaysh al-Islam drone. (YouTube/Jaysh al-Islam)

The spokesperson claimed that the aircraft returned safely to their take-off points, adding further that they weren’t exposed to anti-aircraft fire since they took regime forces by “surprise.”