Saturday, December 3, 2022
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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Hafez Assad’s ‘Liberation’ War: The 49-year-old lie

As they do every year, the Assad regime celebrates today, October 6, the false victory of their so-called “October Liberation War” in spite of the fact that thousands of Syrians were killed, millions were displaced inside and outside of Syria and the cities Assad destroyed are still in ruins. After all of that, not one inch of the Golan Heights Israel occupied since 1967 was actually liberated in that war.

Hafez Assad announcing the October 6, 1973 War

The annual celebration of the Assad regime media outlets centers around the imaginary “victory” they have created and nurtured from year to year, but in reality, it exists only in their own minds. Their imaginary narrative declares that this victory was achieved through the wise leadership of Hafez Assad and his army. This fictional account of Syrian history originated with Hafez Assad himself when he declared at the time that this war is “the nation’s greatest achievement in modern history.”

the results of the battle resulted in the Israeli army advancing to the edge of the capital, Damascus

Yasser Ashkar

In truth, the Assad regime was not able to liberate one single inch of what Israel occupied of the Syrian lands following the shameful defeat in June of 1967 when Hafez Assad was the minister of defense. In fact, the results of the battle resulted in the Israeli army advancing to the edge of the capital, Damascus, reaching the village of Sasa’, 35 km from the city center.

Nevertheless, Assad and his media have been capitalizing on the illusion of victory for years as the Assadist media promotes the belief that all Syrians owe a lot to Hafez Assad, the great dictator who is the “hero” of this fictionalized “liberation”. Bashar Assad was an eight-year-old child during the October war, and when he assumed power in 2000, the regime media attributed to him the same title as his father, being no less than a hero. Large banners calling him as such spread all over Syria without having a shred of shame.

“Golan Seller” is a well-known phrase to many Syrians who have not bought what the regime’s propaganda used to sell and consider the October 6, 1973 war for what it really was: a disgraceful event for Assad and his family

Yasser Ashkar

But not all Syrians have been gullible to their propaganda tactics. “Golan Seller” is a well-known phrase to many Syrians who have not bought what the regime’s propaganda used to sell and consider the October 6, 1973 war for what it really was: a disgraceful event for Assad and his family. According to statistics, losses that resulted from the October “Liberation” War were 3100 Syrians killed, 750 tanks, 140 military aircraft, and many villages lost. 

The only concession given by Israel occurred in June 1974 when the Israeli army withdrew from Quneitra which they had already abandoned. To this day, Quneitra remains in ruins and there have been many questions as to what negotiations may have gone on behind the scenes to affect the final outcome of the so-called October “Liberation” War. Much speculation has resulted in many studies and articles being written. But so far none of the theories have served to quell the suspicion that continues to surround this unfortunate period of Syria’s history.

The Greek-Orthodox church in Quneitra destroyed as a result of the war

Out of the many mysteries and speculations concerning the 1973 war with Israel is the one leaked by Anwar al-Sadat, former president of Egypt who was also fighting that war on the Egyptian-Israeli front, that confirm the betrayal by Hafez Assad as then the minister of defense together with his brother Rifaat Assad and that the Golan was handed over to Israel without a fight.

Hafez Assad announced in a military communiqué bearing the number 66 that Quneitra had fallen into the hands of the enemy forces and that Syrian soldiers had to withdraw in any way possible. This statement preceded the arrival of the enemy by two days.

Yasser Ashkar

This was stated by Khalil Mustafa, a major in the Syrian intelligence in his book The Fall of the Golan published in 1975, in which he documented meticulously day by day, hour by hour, so that the reader can reach the following conclusion. The Syrian regime had no intention to engage in any battles confronting the Israeli army and all that took place was a play with a weak script exposed, and the evidence was that there were no real confrontations between the two armies. It was stated on page 102 that on Saturday, June 10, 1967, at 9:30 am, the then minister of defense Hafez Assad announced in a military communiqué bearing the number 66 that Quneitra had fallen into the hands of the enemy forces, and that Syrian soldiers had to withdraw in any way possible. This statement preceded the arrival of the enemy by two days.

Was Hafez Assad’s intention behind carrying out this farce to cover up his betrayal in the 1967 war? Hopefully, time will reveal the whole truth after the reign of Assad family is gone forever.

Yasser Ashkar
Yasser Ashkar
Former instructor at Istanbul University. Ashkar is a Founding Member of the Association of Syrian Refugees, Human Rights Activist and Journalist. He currently lives in Michigan, USA.

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