Activities of Sheikh Saleh Al Ali festival kicked off Sunday in Sheikh Bader city in Tartous governorate in commemoration of the Independence Day which celebrates the anniversary of the evacuation of occupying French troops from Syria. The kicking-off of the festival witnessed massive public turnout from different provinces. Tartous governor, Nizar Moussa said the locals of Tartous and al- Sheikh Bader are determined to keep the memory of Sheikh Saleh Al Ali alive through the festival that is considered an outstanding cultural phenomenon in the province. Secretary of Tartous branch of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party Ghassan Asaad emphasized the importance of the festival in invoking the memory of inspiring figures in the Syrian history, namely Sheikh Saleh Al Ali who was one of the architects of independence. Earlier, Tartous governor and al-Baath Party Secretary visited the tomb of Sheikh Saleh Al Ali and laid a wreath of flowers, and visited the museum that contains some of the precious possessions of Sheikh Al Ali. The exhibition displayed a total of 65 art works by 26 artists, with the topics varying between nature, folklore and the sublime meanings of the Independence Day. Poems by 7 poets were recited during the festival that extolled the concept of independence. The festival, which lasts until Wednesday, showcases a unique cultural mixture of art and folklore exhibition, poetry symposiums, musical concerts and open dialogue sessions. Sheikh Saleh Al Ali, who was born in 1884 in al-Sheikh Bader area on the Syria coast, was a prominent leader who commanded the Syrian revolt against the French occupying forces. The Evacuation (Independence Day) is Syria's national day that commemorates the evacuation of the last French soldier and Syria's proclamation of full independence.