A regiment of the FSA, the Free Syrian Army fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, announced that it has set up two battalions called ‘Martyr Saddam Hussein’ in the cities of Idlib and Deir al-Zour in Syria.
Within higher and lower echelons of the FSA, Saddam is a revered figure for his battle against the Shi’a uprisings and Iran, which the fighters consider a hostile Shi’a state. Activists also claim the label is an attempt to deliberately taunt Shi’a and Alawite communities.
Naming the FSA battalions after Saddam Hussein has been met with overwhelming outrage and condemnation in the region, notably among Syria’s Kurds who, in the 1980s experienced the Halabja massacre. The massacre, which was carried out using mustard gas had historically been recalled as a genocide by the community.