Jamal Maarouf first to shoot down a Syrian regime fighter plane


Jamal Maarouf, leader of Syria’s Martyrs Battalions and Brigades, a faction of the “Free Syrian Army,” always finds time for prayers even amid gunfire and shelling.

He was a construction worker in Lebanon before moving to Syria in March 2011 to join the uprising there. When you bring up his name, opposition fighters will tell you he was the first person to shoot down a MiG fighter plane belonging the regime’s air force.

Since the outbreak of the revolution, his life became endangered as was the life of thousands of Syrians. But Maarouf does not care. He drives his car towards Aleppo to inspect the site where bloody battles took place against the regime’s forces.

In the Aleppo suburbs one finds Stores of Khan Toman that contain large amounts of munitions that are worth millions of dollars. Recently, the opposition fighters succeeded in controlling them and taking them from the Syrian regime forces. But this didn’t last for long because the regime forces bombed the stores from the air to the disappointment of opposition fighters.

The shout their need for anti-aircrafts, but outside backers have refused to supply them with any, the fighters say.

“We want ammunition and weapons. We only have now a shotgun and some ammunition. We need many other arms. We want ammunition, heavy weapons, mortars, etc... We are striking the aircrafts with the shotguns,” said Youssef, a battalion commander.

At a time dominated by hatred and bloodshed, there was still a place for forgiveness. Mahmoud, a former regime soldier, was captured by opposition fighters during a fight. Maarouf offered him to join the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or go stay at home and live with his family. Tired of fighting Mahmoud went for the second option.

“It is impossible for me to get back to the regime’s army,” he replied.

Nearly two years after the eruption of the revolution, thousands of lives were lost, and the revolution has taken a sectarian aspect that the fighters refuse to accept.

Maarouf reassured Syrians that Alawites have not recorded any killing incident.

“We have not killed Alawites. Al-Fawaa village in the province of Idlib, is a Shiite village, and yet, we have never raided this village or killed their children.”

Al Arabiya team spent their day with members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) listening to their two and only requirements: money and arms. They prepare, plan their attacks, and dream of victory. They know that today they are alive, but tomorrow they may join the long list of victims who were killed by Syrian regime forces.