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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Syria: Second Shammas Massacre

June 24, 2015

Another Homs-area massacre with a "sectarian background" aspect per the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) that was new to me is the second Shammas massacre of 11 August, 2012. This is a southern district of Homs city that saw an especially gruesome Islamist-style massacre of fighting-age men on May 15 (ACLOS section). Here 4 months later, SNHR has 22 documented civilian deaths, including 7 children and 3 women. The district was  bombed for hours, they say, before militias gathered locals, beat them with electrical wires, and then  shot them dead. No background report is mentioned.
22km south and 4 days earlier was the Jandar Resort massacre we (ACLOS) but not SNHR covered.
16 workers killed in a brazen rebel attack near an army base, including Christians and perhaps Alawites. It's not in their report. But this one with only Sunnis implicitly killed is, and I'm just now looking at it...

Date Confusion: Aug. 11 and/or Aug. 12?
Aug 11 VDC Homs = 22 martyrs total - no field execution, many shelling and shooting deaths in areas in the south of and to the south of the city, a few rebels killed, some children.  All Shammas specified victims = 7 - 3 men named Zaqrit, 2 unidentified men, 2 other men. 2 have the note "When the regime's army stormed the area" others "martyred by the regime's army" or no notes.  One f the 7 with no notes is Mohammad Qasem Hseki, non-civilian, FSA, killed by shooting. He's not specified as killed in Shammas, just from there - it might be a coincidence (see below).
Wikipedia's Siege of Homs article is helpful here. It says
"On 12 August, the military launched an incursion into the al-Shamas neighborhood and detained 350 people, mostly young men of military age. 10 of those detained were reportedly executed with the fate of the other 340 unknown.[229][230] The opposition SNC claimed the executed men were civilians, while the activist group SOHR confirmed that people were detained but made no mention of executions.[231] ... After the operation, a Brigadier General defected, stating that the Shamas neighbourhood had no FSA elements and that the Shabiha were led by Iranian military advisors during the operation. [232] The Syrian newspaper Watan, reported that 40 rebels were killed and 70 captured during operations in al-Shamas.[233] " (citing: Al-Arabiya - Al-Jazeera - AFP - Al-Arabiya)

It sounds like both sides agree some number were arrested in an army raid into the district that was on August 12. Were hundreds also abducted? Logic would say by the army if so; terrorists may take retaliatory hostages but not with most effect at that time. Was there abduction and massacre the day before the army raid, as SNHR reports, saying it was the day of the raid?

Back to the VDC - who agreed there was some storming in Shammas the 11th that wasn't there the 10th - Aug 12 = 19 civilian martyrs 9 men 5 boys 3 women, 2 girls - duplicate names are Zaqrit, Hazuri, Azo, Shami, all by shooting. Two Kurdis killed by shelling. This seems to be consistent then. Analysis later.

The second al-Arabiya report, from August, cites "defected Brigadier General Ibrahim al-Jabawi," who "said Shamas did not have elements from the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), but it had people who fled other besieged areas in the central flashpoint city," noting a reason why: "Criticism is increasing against the FSA for hiding in civilian areas." Jabawi also blamed Iranian officers for heading the Shabiha operation, and showed his detailed knowledge by saying that "10 civilian men were executed and 350 others were detained," which is slightly different from the SNC claim of 350 total.
Jablawi claims no FSA presence, but the VDC lists one FSA fatality of the 11th - same time "When the regime's army stormed the area" a bit earlier than most heard. Mohammad Qasem Hseki, non-civilian, FSA. He's not specified as killed in Shammas, just from there. Might be a coincidence.

Problems with Concurrent Bus Attack
Wikipedia's Siege of Homs article also mentioned:
"Three children on a minibus were killed as they tried to flee with their parents from the Shamas district during the military operation...."
Killed when the bus was shelled? When it was pulled over and raided? I can find this match to say 2 children, or 3 depending how you look at it:
- Qamar Arnus  Civilian  Child - Female  Homs  Qusair  2012-08-11  Shelling  age 9 mother Zainab Ammar
- Mohammad Abdulmuti Arnus  Civilian  Adult - Male  Homs  Qusair  2012-08-11  Shelling
Mother's Name Zainab Ammar. married. Was martyred with his mother
- Zainab Ammar  Civilian  Adult - Female  Homs  Qusair  2012-08-11  Shelling  Was martyred with her two children
- Mustafa Assaf  Civilian  Child - Male  Homs  Ghanto  2012-08-11  Shelling  (seemingly unrelated, has video - teen-aged, intact)

Now, how many people would be on a minibus? There would be at least a driver besides this family. Most likely, a few others. When people flee violence, which was reported, busses tend to get full, in fact. So, why when a shell hits the bus, do exactly these 3 related people completely die from it, one other kid, and no one else?
And then, what kind of shells were these? The VDC, sometimes quite helpful like this, provides a photo for adult son Mohammed. Something hit him in both eyes, it seems - they're blackened and the left one is puffed-up. He's had his mouth smashed, teeth knocked out, either by some flying debris or maybe a rifle butt.  The red patches on his forehead are probably just blood, but the one we can see better could be where he was again with a rifle butt-shaped object. Then finally, something went through his brain, making that blood come out his right ear. Was he shot, or is all this down to random shelling effects?
And then of course rebels arrived later to take this picture and document the "shelling" deaths.

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