Qardaha is a small town in the Alawite mountains and the traditional home town of the Assad family going back several generations, as well as other powerful Alawite families such as the Makhlouf and Shalish families that intermarried with the Assads as well as many others. These families continue to have a strong presence there, and it is home to the leaders of the Shabbiha gangsters such as “Shaykh of the Mountain” Mohammed Tawfiq al-Assad, “Master of Qardaha” Munzer al-Assad and “King of Law” Fawaz al-Assad.
On September 28, a gun fight broke out between the Assad and Shalish families and the al-Khayyer, Othman and Aboud families, causing several deaths and wounded on both sides. What led to this fight was one of the members of the al-Khayyer family speaking openly against Bashar to which Mohammed al-Assad responded with gunfire. On October 1, the revolutionary Qardaha Coordination Committee announced that Mohammed al-Assad had died from his wounds in a hospital in Tartous and that there was much tension in Qardaha and that it has been surrounded by security forces. Le Monde has a report on the event and its background:
It also links the following video from April 4 2010, a year before the revolution started in Syria, showing Mohammed Assad’s men gathering in front of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral during the Easter sermon, emptying their guns in the air to show their presence to the Christians and disturb their service.
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The Qardaha Rebellion
Activists are reporting that tanks have entered the town, roads were closed, internet and phone lines cut and clashes have taken place.
The outcome of the events in Qardaha may instantly and drastically change the course of the revolution. Contrary to popular belief, there have been many Alawites, from all walks of life, from officers to famous personalities, who have abandoned the regime and supported the revolution. But they have been a minority of renegades from the community, often in conflict with their own families and in hiding. Even if the overwhelming majority of the Alawites abhors the regime and its Shabbiha, fear from the regime and the community as well as what is on the other side prevents them from breaking away. Not this time, for according to the reports it is entire families, powerful ones at that, that have defected in the heart of Assadistan of all places. Here lies the key for the quickest possible way to overthrow the Assad family, and perhaps the only way to preserve the country.