Situation of Maaret Misreenin in Idlib province (Northern Syria, where rebels have more control) - and how towns people (Sunni) efforts have been preventing them from sacked into ongoing escalation. But how that might not last very long.
In March, the army shelled the city for two days, killing five people. Afterward, Mamaar helped negotiate a deal in which the rebels removed their checkpoints in exchange for calm. The army hasn’t come back since.
“We worked hard to make that happen, and the village hasn’t been ruined. So I feel we achieved something,” said an opposition writer, Khatib Badli, who served as intermediary between the regime and the town. He also guessed that the army is easier on the town because about 15 percent of its residents are Shiite and it doesn’t want to harm them. […]
The uprising has affected Mamaar’s own views of Shiites in nearby villages. He regularly calls them “liars” and says the regime is arming them to work as shabiha — pro-government thugs that violently suppress protests.
He also accuses them of being loyal to Iran, suggesting they would choose to go to that Shiite country if Assad falls.
“I think it’s better if they don’t stay in the area,” he said.
Reached by phone, a prominent Shiite from one of those villages had some words of his own for those who oppose Assad.
“Those people aren’t revolutionaries. They are troublemakers and traders in blood,” said Zein al-Deen Taalib, 48.
He said many in his village of Fua served in the army and that they set up checkpoints for their own protection. He praised the Syrian army for doing its “sacred duty” and called Assad “the one real leader in the Arab world.”
Echoing the regime line, he blamed the uprising on armed gangs backed by foreign powers trying to destroy the country.
“If I were a Sunni, I’d stand in the market in Maaret Misreen and kill them,” Taalib said, noting that because he’s a Shiite, a minority in Syria, he has to be more careful.
Many worry that violence between the communities will spread.