The latest interviewee in this series is a individual from the west Deraa countryside locality of Heet, which was long besieged by the Islamic State affiliate Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed (JKBW). Heet then fell to JKBW and was subsequently captured by the Syrian government. Many former rebels from Heet, eager to return home, participated in the recapture of the town from JKBW.
This interview about the situation in Heet was conducted on 23 November 2018, with very minor reordering of questions for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions by me are in square brackets.
Q: Is there national grid electricity grid now [in Heet] or not?
A: There is, but by night, because by day there are repairs because of the destruction that was caused by the fighting with the Dawa’esh [Islamic State]. This has impeded the coming of the electricity.
Q: You mean the network is still being repaired?
Q: As for the water, from where does it come?
A: The water is from the springs of al-Safuqiyah: available, praise be to God.
Q: There is no drinking water from the Yarmouk Valley?
A: The Yarmouk Valley: there is no water suitable for drinking [in it].
Q: Yes, this is what I have heard by God.
A: Drinking water comes to us from the west of Sahm al-Jowlan: al-Alan area.
Q: But also it comes from the springs of al-Safuqiyah?
A: The springs of al-Safuqiyah and the springs of Ghazalah are in the al-Alan area.
Q: Ah. I have understood you. And the municipal office services have returned to Heet?
A: Yes. And a new municipal office staff has been appointed.
Q: Yes. So now there is cleaning of the streets for example? And removal of garbage?
Q: Very good. How is the security situation in the locality? There are not many problems of Da’esh [Islamic State] cells?
A: There are no problems.
Q: Are there many arrests in Heet targeting those accused of affiliation with Da’esh?
A: There is no one involved with Da’esh in Heet: they [those involved] have either been killed or have fled to the north.
Q: How was the rate of participation in the local elections in Heet?
A: There were no elections among us.
Q: Have most of the youth of Heet enlisted in the 4th Division and V Corps?
A: Yes, some here and some there.
Q: You yourself have enlisted in the 4th Division?
A: No, [V] Corps. And it is not enlistment, but rather [military] service.
Q: The service is tantamount to obligatory service [Arabic: khidmat al-‘alam]?
Q: And inside the [local] region only?
A: No, not inside the region: in all the regions of Syria.
Q: Have you received monthly salaries? Or you have not yet received anything?
A: Some have received, others not yet.
Q: Yes. As for the 4th Division, the personnel’s service is inside the area only?
Q: But service within the 4th Division under these circumstances is not tantamount to obligatory service according to what I have heard. Is this correct?
A: No. The 4th Division is a foundation of the Syrian Arab Army and it is considered obligatory service.
Q: I see. There is no one from Heet who has enlisted in Hezbollah?
A: No, and refuge is to be sought in God.
Q: Yes. Finally in your opinion how is life generally in Heet?
A: It’s fine.
Q: Much better than life before the reconciliation?
A: No, before [was] better.