Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Syria Massacres: Reviewing "The Societys Holocaust"

June 22, 2015
last edits July 3

The Society’s Holocaust
A report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), a UK-based anti-government group, June 16, 2015. Report download page - PDF report direct download link. It's called "the society's holocaust," I guess because it's the world community's fault and responsibility to stop it. Thesis: ISIS ("Daesh"), JaN, and Kurdish militias have committed some sectarian massacres, the government's forces have done more than all those combined by far, killing 98% of massacred civilians, and the moderate FSA rebels have committed zero sectarian massacres.

Dettmer Article
The report was headlined in a June 19 article by Jamie Dettmer (a self-proclaimed Zionist, FWIW), for the Daily Beast: "A Damning Indictment of Syrian President Assad’s Systematic Massacres: A new report sorts through the record of sectarian carnage and leaves little doubt who are the worst offenders." This hails the anti-government group's report capable of leaving "little doubt" of their anti-government narrative.
The report outlines true facts, Dettmer feels, "making a mockery of the Syrian leader’s frequent claim to foreign broadcasters that his soldiers would never harm their own people deliberately as a matter of policy." No, these crimes, authored by whoever, clarify that Assad is just as evil and sectarian as the Sunni insurgents always said. He's been doing this from the beginning, and has the audacity to claim they're the ones doing it, just to make him look bad?
Some errors in Dettmer's report:
* "In fact, three days before Assad sat down with the BBC for an especially chilling interview last February (actually was Feb. 10 this year) and lamented how war, alas, causes casualties, government-aligned militiamen stormed the As-Sabil neighborhood in the Syrian city of Homs and slaughtered three Sunni families, including four children and five women." Actually that was February 7, 2012 - three years and three days before that interview. That one is covered, not proven rebel work but likely.
* The report lists "56 major massacres displaying obvious sectarian or ethnic cleansing traits." Actually it's 59 - 56 sectarian massacres, and 3 ethnic massacres, being (Sunni) Kuds against Sunni Arabs (and not any clear vice-versa cases). 49 of the 59 are attributed - by the info SNHR received from its anti-government contacts and rebel fighters - to government or allied forces. I contest all of these, some with direct evidence-based reasons, others just based (so far) on that pattern.

SNHR Report, General Observations:

* Recommendations (from the final page 33), summarized: Everyone they've blamed should have sanctions placed on them. Iran should be stopped from supporting Syria's government. "All necessary measures" should be taken to implement UNSC resolutions 2042 and 2139. The world should team up to get rid of Assad, and all extremist groups. The UN Security Council should do this. The people of the world should "support the Syrian people," mainly by pushing the UNSC to the above recommendations, and by getting Syria referred to the International Criminal Court.  These are all measures towards the destruction of the Syrian government and a replication of the Libya scenario.

* They're totally incorrect to report as clear fact that the government and its allies are responsible for the first, worst, and most massacres, taking 98% of massacred civilian lives. That's about right by lodged opposition activist reports. But those reports, time and again, pale next to the weight of combined logic and evidence. This is best shown on a case-by-case basis, and will be below, in other posts, wherever there's enough room and whenever there's enough time.

* The report lists massacre 32, At-Trymsa (Hama) 12 July, 2012 - tens killed, 67 civilians confirmed, including 6 children killed and one woman. We'd better hope not.  Rebels announced a one-sided, unprovoked massacre by government forces of over 250 people, mostly men. Government said rebels had massacred some locals, including a woman and her children executed in the city square. They were set to kill more, but the Army arrived and killed over 100 in the following battle, with very few losses of their own. Mainstream reports, even the New York Times, followed closely enough to decide in this case the government story was "closer" to the truth (no one wanted to say it was true) - there was no massacre, just a big battle the rebels lost. (see Wikipedia Battle of Tremseh (changed from massacre) and ACLOS left-ambiguous Tremseh Massacre) To hear SNHR, none of that happened - the 250 rebels just weren't confirmed here, maybe left in that vague "tens" - and they do not say here - as they do in some cases - that the killings "involved only government forces." (meaning, there was some aspect of rebel fighting and dying involved - here, the evidence suggests that was the vast bulk of the dead.)

The battle was clearly the main event, but there was also talk of a massacre, and some clues always said there was, just cut short. Were 67 civilians killed? Might be, worth some review.
* When the report acknowledges a crime by a non-Daesh anti-government group as actually being by them (that is, it became impossible to blame the "regime" - it happens occasionally), it tends to preface it with what the loyalists did to provoke it. All government-supporter massacres were totally unprovoked, to read this report. And that helps clarify the supposed sectarian motive behind each of these crimes.
* Page 32: The SNHR received reports of a Kurdish YPG massacre from Sunni locals, but YPG denied it, saying those locals were known pro-Daesh liars. SNHR had heard this kind of protest many times, published its report blaming the YPG anyway, still includes it here as an "ethnic cleansing massacre." But they note "On the next day, YPG issued a statement accusing SNHR of working to further their supporters' agenda and trying to incite national strife and promoting chaos." Ah, NOW the anti-government Kurds get it - this is what the massacres and the stories told about them were all about from day one!

* "It is clear that the Syrian authority is trying to provoke the other party to commit such crimes in light of the lack of any form of accountability on the International Community's part or the Security Council's willingness to stop these massacres... " (p. 5)

* They use  the term "local militias" "instead of Alawite or Shi'ite" - because "we have no knowledge of its hierarchy and its leaders' sectarian affiliations." Not sure what to make of that. (p. 5)

* They do know 90% of the listed massacres were done with the help of government forces, and of course killed Sunnis, and they know "90% of the security branches and military teams are Alawites." (p. 5)

Special Focus: Aqrab, December 11, 2012
I don't suppose this is the most representative example, but it is a real one. They really put this "massacre" in their report when most now know to simply say "what massacre?"
Government forces' local militias besieged Aqrab village in Hama suburbs. Consequently, the village residents agreed to form a committee in order to negotiate with the militias and end the siege. The local militias killed the members of the delegation which were six civilians according to SNHR. This incident details a pattern of killing based on sectarian backgrounds. SNHR published a statement regarding this incident: "even mediation committees are being killed."
Wow is that missing some parts. The link gives me a chance to check what their supporting info is in this case. That's one of their points - each one is backed up (many are) with detailed investigations. There it says
D When the militias and government forces siege become severer on the people of Aqrab village in Hama countryside, a group of the village young men went to the government forces trying to reach an agreement to end the siege, but the militias surrounding the village arrested the group and executed them in cold blood.
It lists the men, names I recognize: Omar Walid Bakeer, Saeed Hamash, Shaker Akash, Yahia Al Hussein, Ali Al Sarah, Ali Al Omar. The linked full PDF report is the same short thing, with a big logo below. That's literally all they show.

Abdulsalam Daoud, per VDC, killed by regime
shelling or regime sniper, in Aqrab Dec. 3.
His family inside were all killed by shelling.
Okay, so what's missing?  The besieging Alawite militias (unspecified) in a Sunni town is presumably what makes it sectarian to them. Problem is, Aqrab was a half-Alawite town until rebels attacked the (much smaller) Alawite half in the west on December 2, herded 500 captives into a building, whole families, killing some in the process (deaths listed as government shelling - see inset). They exchanged some Alawites with the government for rebel prisoners. It somehow became a standoff, or there was some resistance from the captives, unclear - the besieging Alawite men were inside the house with family, causing some problem. They reportedly had food and water cut off, smoke from burning tires poured into the house, with the deal reported as endure or surrender - men will be executed, women and children will not be killed, but taken back to rebel-held al-Houla. Some were reportedly massacred ahead of time; one smoke-stained girl of about 7 I think was one of these - skull sliced open by a sword, shown on rebel video as a shelling victim in Houla, on December 9.
Then, there was a delegation of local Sunnis - six - sent in on the 10th, apparently to talk the Alawites into accepting the deal. It seems they were then taken hostage by the hostages and eventually killed, probably by them, probably for being part of that sick demand. Next, unclear. Rebels say the Shabiha blew up their family with grenades and either fled or committed suicide. Then the army shelled the house, and the air force bombed it. The admittedly besieging rebels said about 200 remained in the house, only a few lived, and they were helping the survivors in Houla. That was the first-reported Aqrab Massacre. Alawites were expected to rise up against Assad now that he was killing them.
The house Alex Thomson filmed, intact
A couple days later Channel 4's Alex Thomson filmed the house hostages say they were held in - intact but with smoke coming out of some blacked-out windows. People freed in exchanges told their story to him, reporters from al-Mayadeen, and Syrian networks. It's not known if rebels actually killed those people, quietly released them, kept them as slaves, or most likely some combination of these.  But everyone who supported the rebellion tried to just drop that story and move on. (see CIWCL, ACLOS and a rare tweet from Alex Thomson confirming this work "seems to bear out what I reported from Aqrab at the time") Which is:

So kudos to SNHR for bringing it up again, and in such a splendidly twisted manner. They report only the killed delegation, and in the context of a storyline almost completely inverted from reality. This leaves little doubt that, at least in some cases - wow, holy shit are they atrociously unreliable. Rebels killed or enslaved probably over 200 Alawites, used others to get their friends freed, and displaced all 2,000 there were. The few who caused some friction on the way are now attackers, killing anyone who speaks peace. Apologies for the unprofessional language here, but ... holy shit they got this one wrong.
Massacre Coverage, Theirs vs. Ours
The report is password-protected so I can't copy any text from it. So I'll cite sparingly. But for reference, I needed to make this list of the 22 massacres in Homs province they cover, 1,032 victims, to compare with my own research into that area (see Monitor summary post here - overall about 57 events covered, app. 1,400-1,900 dead).

SNHR's 22 massacres in Homs
C=covered (will have a link in time), N = new to me, N = was new, covered now, ? = will need to check (ACLOS page and all of Shoutwiki has been down badly for a few days - some may be covered under another name, etc.). Select notes - doc= documented dead, ch=children, w=women, report title search words (useless, use PDF links)

C Zahraa Dec. 6, 2011 - 19 documented killed, 8 from one family
C Az-Zaitoun, January 26 - local militias raided, killed 2 families 19 doc 6 w 10 ch stab wounds seen (covered as Bahader-Akkra Family Massacre, At least 13-17 civilians executed in Karm al-Zaytoun (KaZ) or Nazeheen)
3 C Sebil 7 Feb 14, 5 women, 4 children report "sectarian-cleansing massacre ... As-Sabil neighborhood"
4 C Ar-Refa'ie Al-Adawiya, and Karm Az-Zaitoun March 9, 11 - 224 dead, 44 children, 48 women
5 C Deir Baalba 2 and 9 April  200 dead, 21 children, 20 women report "Der Ba'lba massacre in April"
6 C first Ash-Shamas, 15 May 11, including imam of a mosque
7 C al-Houla 97 civilians, 10 rebels
N Eastern Buweida Massacre May 31  - 12 dead, workers, fertilizer factory, bus hijacked report "fertilizer factory massacre..."
N Qal't Al-Hesn, June 28 Dr. Ahlam Emad home, 6 doc, 3 w report "...slaughtered in Qal't Al-Hesn"
10 Shammas 2, 11 August 22 civilians, 3 ch 2 w
11 N Tasnien 5-6 Jan 105 dead or missing, bodies in Assi river
12 N Mshierfa 6 January - 11 dead 1 woman, 3 Christians 
13 C Haswiya, 15 Jan - 100 dead, 20 women, 25 children "killing based on sectarian backgrounds" "involved only government forces."
14 C Abel 25 March, 2013 - rebels chase out loyalists, who massacre on the way out - 14 doc 6 w 4 ch
15 C  Burj, Talkalkh 31 March - 10 dead, 2 w 4 ch
16 C Baba Amrou Massacre, March 2013 - No exact date! after opp. withdrew, killed tens, burned home 58 doc, 21 w
17 C Khirbet at-Tin 10 April  10 dead, 7 ch 1 w
18 N Malouk Family 17 May - 2 families, looted, burned bodies, in Wa'er 13 doc, 9 children, 3 women, one man
19 N Haswiya 2 - Al-Mazarea Al-Mohammad At-Tayyar families, mutilated, 18 doc, 9 ch 3 w 
20 As-Sakhna 22 July 18 doc, 2 w
21 N Wadi al-Mawla, a Friday in November - 21 doc, 8 ch 7 w, one pregnant
22 N (last Homs) Ash-Shniya 23 July, 2014 - killed 20 soldiers trying to flee Qabou to Houla, heads tossed in al-Assi village 

So a number of these - at least 8 - are ones I had missed before. And this isn't even all massacres, just sectarian ones, by their definition. My study is even less complete than I thought. I'm looking at Tasnin now, interesting stuff.
After more checking, I eliminated the ? - I had caught 13, with 9 being new. All of those were then covered.

27 in other provinces: Aleppo: 8 - Hama: 7 - Damascus: 5 -  Tartous: 2 - Idlib: 2
Daraa: 2 - Deir Ezzour: 1

Of these, some at least we've covered (using continuous numbering up to 49)
28 Al-Mazr'a 21 June 2013 (near Khnasser, below)
29 Khnaser 22 Feb 2014 (with three other area massacres, app. 104 total reported dead)
31 Qbeir, 6 June - 50 civilians
32 At-Trymsa 12 July - 67 civilians, 6 ch
39 Douma June 2012 (and another Douma massacre in October)
40 Jadedat Al-Fadl 16-23 April, 2013
42 Nabak November 2013 (SNHR says it lasted into late December and claimed the lives of 361 civilians
43 Banyas 2-4 May, 2013 covered as Al-Bayda Massacre and Baniyas Massacre "SNHR documented by name 459 civilian victims, including 92 children and 71 women."
44 Banyas 21 July, 2013 (Fattouh family massacre)

New Massacres, Covered
June 22: Tasnin massacre of Jan 2013. That was pretty quick work. Turns out mostly from rebel sources this was a mixed village with many Alawites and many loyalists that had sat out the revolution, trying to take neither side. The Alawites and loyalists all ran away when the other Alawites ("local militias" - some from Tasnin) and loyalists attacked. That's why they're gone now. The non-loyal Sunnis stayed, and were killed and abducted. By loyalist sources, terrorists attacked, abducted and killed, but were cut short by a swift army response and fled - maybe with captives. Some rebel fighters from Houla and Rastan are listed by opposition sources as massacred along with the locals; VDC lists 4 of these, plus 32 civilians they confirmed as executed - 23 men, 5 women, 2 boys and 2 girls. Is that because useful women and children were kept? That all supports that there was a sectarian aspect like they say. See Aqrab above for that parallel.

June 23: Eastern Buweida, May 31, 2012, covered. This one I was aware of, and I know there's way more info on it around. But this quick start is enough for now...
June 24: Qal't Al-Hesn, June 28 - professor Ahlam and family, and perhaps distant family, covered here. That's 3 of 8 now covered.
June 24: Second Shammas massacre August 11 or actually August 12, 2012 - covered in the same day (quick job though).
June 26: Mshierfa Jan. 6 covered, partly
June 27: Mallouk family May 2013
June 27:  Sukhna, July 2013  
June 28: Wadi al-Mawla Nov. 15, 2013
June 29: Shinya Massacre of July 23, 2014

Some Other Sectarian Massacres SNHR never covered and never will
(list to be filled-in/improved in time)
Tellawi family, April 17, 2011  (Alawi)
Asheera bakery, Jan. 2012 (Christians)
Sultaniya, March (4-8 Melhems killed, likely Alawi)
Houla Massacre, May 25, 2012 (Shia converts, allegedly - app. 85) (see also possible May 22 sectarian bus hijacking link and the next entry)
Shumeriyeh Homa May 25, 2012 - 10 killed (Alawi)
Joseyeh bus attack June 2012 - 9 killed (Alawi)
Jandar resort  (16 Alawi and Christian workers)
Ghassaniya-Haidariya September 30, 2012 (Christians)
Al-Shaddadi Petroluem Company, Hasaka, Feb. 2013 (Shia)
Aqrab  (Alawi, number unknown)
Maan Dec. 24 2012 23 killed (Alawi)
Duvair 40+ minimum (Christians)
Marmarita Aug. 17, 2013 - app. 15 killed(Christians)
Jabourin bus bombing Sept 19, 2013 -19 killed (Alawi)
Khunayfis Hama Nov 2013 (Alawi)
Adra (right after Nabak, ignored - many Christians killed)
Maan Feb 9, 2014  (Alawi)
Zara (near Khalet al-Hosn) Feb. 17, 2014 (Alawi)
Zanuba Hama June 2014  (Alawi)
Ishtabraq Idlib April 2015  (Alawi)
Qalb Lawzah, May 2015 (Druze, but forcibly converted, so arguably not sectarian at all - and this may be a wave of the future - motive elimination)

Note: any number of other massacres may have sectarian aspects and it's just not totally clear. For example one with arguably enough evidence to include is Karm al-Zaytoun, March 2012 (reports say clerics blessed the slaughter, and rebels refer to the victims as "sheep," non-humans, likely not Sunni). Khalidiya the month before has less reliable suggestions of the same (Mother Agnes says the hostages killed were local Christians and Alawi). Other massacres have varying circumstantial indicators.

If the Jabourin bus bombing counts, so would the car bombing of a school in the Homs city Alawite-majority district of Zahra, many shelling attacks on Alawiye villages, Christian districts of Aleppo, the Shiite vilages of Nubol and Zahraa (Aleppo) and things of that sort. So that should probably be stricken from the list. Done.

1 comment:

  1. Palmyra area
    A contingent of teens and boys(?) shot 25 Syrian troops dead at a UNESCO world heritage site in Palmyra,

    The execution is said to have taken place shortly after the Islamic State (IS, previous ISIS/ISIL) captured the historical city on May 21.
    The UN human rights office said that one-third of Palmyra’s 200,000 residents fled the city following the takeover.

    READ MORE: ISIS fighters plant mines and bombs in Palmyra – monitor

    In the video, Syrian soldiers are seen kneeling in green and brown military uniforms on the stage of the amphitheater stage just before being shot dead from behind by the young militants, according to reports. There is a huge IS flag displayed in the background.

    The perpetrators look like children or teenagers dressed in desert camouflage and brown bandanas.

    There appears to have been men and children watching the executions from the stands of the theater.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, was the first to report on the video. Their report was released on May 27, less than a week after IS gained control over the city, though the exact date of the alleged killings is unknown.

    The extremist organization is reportedly responsible for executing over 200 people, many of them civilians, around the Palmyra area. At the end of May, there were reports that Islamic State militants had killed at least 400 people in Palmyra, mostly women and children.




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