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Monday, June 22, 2015

Syria: Tasnin Massacre

June 22, 2015

The recent SNHR report "The Societys Holocaust" (PDF download, and see review page) included at least 8 massacre events in Homs province I never included in my own Homs Massacres study. One of these seemed worth checking, due to the large potential death toll, or large taken toll, as they give it. I knew nothing else but "I should already know this one."

Homs massacre 11, Tasnien, 5-6 January, 2013 - 105 "either killed or missing" (no breakdown) including 19 women and 10 children. Has a sectarian background aspect, not specified, facilitated by the government. Regime forces did it, augmented by local militias from Jabourin (Alawite), Kafr Nan (unsure), "and Tesnien village" itself (unsure) - they shelled the town, then raided homes, abducted and killed, many bodies tossed in al-Assi river, a few days later found in Ghernata village. They don't link to any background report like they do in many cases. It's not specified only government forces were involved - there might have been rebel "defenders" as well.

What Rebel-Friendly Sources Tell Us
The opposition VDC records32 civilians that seem to fit the bill - all Rastan ones likely related, by common names (Murad, etc.) and most specify Rastan:Tansen Village, killed by field execution. one shelling, one shooting. 23 men 5 women, 2 boys, 2 girls. The entries tend to have no notes to explain the crime. Some do: A.H. Darwish has notes "He was field-executed by regime forces with 20 other people when regime forces stormed the village." 17 entries, including the children, share this or similar notes.

Now here's a bit ... 7 non-civilians from Homs killed that day - 4 field executed - also "by regime forces with 20 other people when regime forces stormed the village." So rebel fighters from Houla were there, and got murdered, NOT shot in the course of a raid.

Some include "Video of the martyr" like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQEnPvSpaqs (decayed body from water, dated 1-30) Video of the martyr http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcgDAjeA4Xc (private) etc. (no check for other videos, may be some or none)

Let's look at that gender breakdown: 23 men 5 women, 2 boys, 2 girls. Considering men are often away in a war situation especially, these should be the lowest number around. Mostly men dying suggests a shake-free op - likely sectarian. Citing ancient Islamic rules of warfare, the allowed and encouraged pattern dealing with non-Sunnis or servants of a non-Islamic government is: kill the men, take their women and children and do whatever makes sense with them. They may opt to kill the ugly, useless, old, but they aren't supposed to and they blamed someone else. VDC's entries often give ages, trending older - 60+. Older women, not kept. Most boys and girls, not dumped.  They would keep the pretty ones, re-educate the kids, perhaps, raise them to be good Sunnis and kill their un-redeemed cousins.

Tasnin (Arabic: تسنين ) - on wikimapia - between Rastan, Talbiseh, and Houla, Just northwest of Alawite Jabourin. Enough to wonder if it's an Alawi (Alawite) village. Someone else did; the label currently says "Alawite village?"

One detailed opposition source (in Arabic) claims it was a mixed town with some Alawites, but mainly Sunnis, largely Turkmen. Ayyam, March 3, 2013 - Massacre تسنينNorthern Homs countryside / ethnic cleansing
(auto-translated segments)
...population of about three thousand inhabitants are Sunni Muslims, the majority of the Turkmen, with a number of families of the upper ( العلوية means Alawite), working population in agriculture, animal husbandry, ... it takes the village from the South South West number of Villages loyal to the regime and which comprises a number of barriers and mechanisms of heavy military bombing ... 
... Since the beginning of the revolution did not participate inhabitants of the village of “تسنين” the activities of civil or military against the system, due to the nature of sectarian mix of its population. ...
... (side-note) The incitement of the Turkmen in those villages spreading the rumor, and described as terrorism photographer that the militants of Turkmen in the region constitute the infrastructure for the so-called “ahrar al-sham battalions of the al-Nusra front, which is active in the area between the countryside of Hama, Homs and the countryside of Idlib, as the armed Turkmen, an important element in all of the ” Farouk battalion” and ” The battalion of the Khalid Bin Al-Walid in Homs ...
... The units of the regime's army, backed with the “shabiha ” villages loyal to him on the morning of the fifth of January الثاني2013, to deploy troops in large numbers in the village of jabbourin and كفرنان, supported by a number of tanks, military vehicles, and surrounded the village and close all the ports leading to it, and, after the departure of the majority of the families are upper (Alawi) -loyal to the regime of the village started the attack on the village ...
And so it couldn't have been the vanished Alawites or loyalists of the town who were abducted and killed, after a bombardment that was actually by rebels tired of their fence-sitting there. No, those had a secret tip-off to flee, run away, while the town's non-loyalist Sunnis just sat firm and waited for the coming massacre of just Sunnis? The report goes on for a while - may add more.
The Loyalist Take
First find seems useful. LiveLeak, Jan 8 2013 Syrian army interrupts "another Assad massacre" in-progress in Tasneen, Homs - loyalist news video (SAMA TV, not SANA) shown - interviews translated/transcribed (header and summary below). (SAMA video by itself on Youtube - still of burning homes at right)
the quick response of the Syrian Army to the news of terrorist infiltration of the village saved the lives of many citizens, and guaranteed that -this time- the truth will be told. since the terrorist elements in Syria count on the fact that "dead men tell no tales" to trade with Syrian blood in the UN..
* One man says he was arrested and beaten as a "traitor" and had family killed, but the army chased them off before they came back to the room he was locked in.
* A cousin of Ahmed Sulaiman el Abbas says the man was decapitated, killed along with his brothers Samier Sulaiman el Abbas, and Ibrahiem Sulaiman el Abbas (these names don't appear on the VDC list) Attackers may have come from Houla. (VDC records suggest that's the case - see above)
* Reporter: "death squads, or random armed men, invaded the village threatened, tortured, killed people for being in the wrong place."
* another local, a woman, says: "the armed gangs attacked us early in the morning, they army moved us between housed, as we have told you. they protected us, and moved us to a safe house. we know what happen in the massacre, the army extracted us immediately."
* another woman says about the same as the above.

Haswiyeh Parallels
Consider: this is about one week before Shabiha-types and/or Army allegedly raided Haswiyeh and killed 106 - a crime that got reported on, looked at, mapped out - and the rebel claims fell apart badly, leaving the weight of local claims come through blaming rebels, black-clad al-Nusra types they'd never seen before - for the massacre part ("about 30" locals of a few families, but that might be higher than they knew), burned homes and bodies. Additionally, the SNHR report mentions a second, smaller family-based Haswiyeh massacre later in the year. That rings a bell, but I don't think I really looked into it.

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