"No direct contact between FSA and soldiers took place"
A truce was indeed called in Barzeh on January 7. But Ziad Al-Chami, an opposition activist who runs Barzeh’s media centre (which has close links to the FSA), told FRANCE 24 that no joint operation took place.
In the footage, the men are all from the regime’s side. There is no member of the FSA in this photo. No direct contact between FSA and soldiers took place, not even to negotiate the terms of the truce. [The truce was reportedly negotiated with the help of intermediaries not involved in the fighting.]
Al-Chami also explained that the regime has not yet complied with the terms of the truce, which include the army’s withdrawal from all of Barzeh and the release of captured rebels. Under these conditions, he says, it would be impossible for the two sides to even consider collaborating.
However, another video has raised doubts as to this version of the story. In this footage, published online by the Barzeh media centre and filmed on the demarcation line on January 13, just a few days after the start of the truce, a man in civilian clothing stands with uniformed soldiers, his face blurred by the centre’s activists. Did they do this in order to protect the identity of an FSA rebel working alongside the Syrian army? Al-Chami says this was not the case.
This was an error on the part of the technician who put the video online. The man whose face was blurred is a pro-regime activist, but his civilian clothing must have confused the technician and led him to make this mistake.
The regime made a big deal of this truce as the negotiations got underway with Geneva 2 [the Syrian peace conference held in Switzerland, the goal of which is to find a compromise between the Syrian government and the opposition]. They thought this would make it seem like they were making good-faith efforts to find solutions on the ground. I think that regime partisans are publishing the screen grab to hit two birds with one stone: to make the regime look like pacifiers and to discredit the FSA in the eyes of regime opponents by making it look like they’re collaborators.
Indeed, the Syrian regime did not simply announce a truce in Barzeh. Syria’s official news agency SANA wrote
that 200 rebels, describe as both jihadists and FSA members, had “put down their weapons” and “surrendered” following the Barzeh truce. The FSA firmly denied this ever happened.