CHAIR V. COFFIN: More than three years into the Syrian conflict, President Bashir Assad is facing pressure from an unlikely new source: the Alawites.
This flier is part of a social-media campaign called #Speak Up Against Assad, launched on Tuesday by Alawite activists in Syria. The group opposes the Assad regime and seeks to raise awareness of the high casualty figures within the Alawite community for defending Assad for the past three years.
The caption reads: “The chair for you [Assad], the coffins for our children,” referring to the disproportionate number of Alawites who have died in the war thus far. The “chair” is a symbolic reference to the presidency.
The anti-Assad campaign claims that 60,000 soldiers have died in the Syrian army since the beginning of the conflict, with more than a third reportedly Alawite, despite the fact that Alawites make up only an estimated 11 percent of the population.
Casualties in the conflict have been notoriously difficult to verify.
The handout was reportedly distributed in Tartus, a largely Alawite coastal city in the west of Syria. Before the war, almost the entire city was Alawite. Now, the city is a mix of Syrians from throughout the country fleeing conflict in their hometowns.
Assad, a member of minority religious Alawite sect, has enjoyed support from the Syrian Alawites throughout most of the conflict. Alawites, viewed by many as an unorthodox branch of Shiism, have been closely tied to Assad as the conflict has become increasingly sectarian.
However, for some Syrians, the campaign may have come too late.
“You’re late,” one commenter says beneath the picture, “by three years and [hundreds of thousands of] lives.”
– August 12, 2014