A member of the Observatory group on duty. Photo: ARA News
Aleppo, Syria – Following the Syrian regime’s loss of large areas across the country, as well as the inability to carry out efficient ground operations against the rebels, pro-Assad forces started to use aircrafts to bombard opposition-held areas, regardless of the civilian casualties.
According to the Syrian Violations’ Documentation Center, the daily average of the regime’s air raids has been 25 since mid 2012, and it increased to exceed 60 raids a day in some areas, such as Aleppo.
The “revengeful” shelling by the pro-Assad air force against residential areas outside of the regime control, coupled with the world’s silence and refusal to arm the opposition with anti-crafts, has pushed people to establish observatories to monitor helicopters and warplanes to be able to evacuate populated neighbourhoods in order to avoid ever increasing casualties.
By use of simple equipment, a group of volunteers established a so-called “Observatory” between two strongholds of pro-Assad army in Idlib province in northern Syria, to observe the regime’s aircrafts and break through the confidential frequencies used in the regime-held military airports to forecast the targets.
The Observatory group consists of volunteers active in different areas, who have connections with opposition-linked sources in various rebel-held cities and towns in northern Syria. Members of the group use walkie-talkies and other communication tools to exchange information about potential raids by the Syrian air force.
For security reasons, members of the Observatory group preferred to keep the location of the Observatory headquarters anonymous.
“After determining the target, the volunteers warn the opposition fighters and civilians in the targeted area to take protective measures and evacuate the area expected to be attacked,” a member of the Observatory told ARA News.
According to military experts who work at the Observatory, the equipments used by the members of the Observatory consist of a digital radio with a small screen to show frequencies. The radio can be adjusted to receive the frequency used by pro-Assad forces at the military airport’s tower.
“The sound delivery is excellent when the airport is 50 km away or less,” the member of the Observatory said.
The walkie-talkie is one of the tools used to gather the information and instructions exchanged between the military pilots and the airport’s information center.
“Our volunteers either get the frequencies of the regime airport itself or search manually for the adjusted frequencies,” the same source said.
Speaking to ARA News, Rashad Mohammed, a fighter of the opposition-linked Free Syrian Army (FSA), said: “We got walkie-talkies from the regime’s army during battles in Daraa province in southern Syria.”
“We were listening to the frequencies already present in walkie-talkies to ascertain the stationary and movable targets pilots intended to shell,” Mohammed added.
Abu Wael, a member of the Observatory group in Wadi al-Deif, in the countryside of Idlib, told ARA News: “We transfer information to our sources in the rebel-held areas on a daily basis via walkie-talkies about the regime aircrafts’ type, altitude and destination, as well as the potential targets.”
“We try to send the information immediately, so we can have time to save liver. We have protected thousands of civilians from the killing machine of Assad regime through our activities in the Observatory group,” Abo Wael said.
Such simple tools used by the FSA or local activists have saved many civilians of being potential casualties of barrel bombs and missiles.
Reporting by: Rustum Osse
Source: ARA News