This page presents two reports on the August 2013 massacres in Lattakia. Although everyone who reads the reports will naturally be deeply disturbed by them, some people may wish to conclude that they are just an element of an ‘ongoing horrendous civil war in Syria’. But this would suggest that people in general from the different religious groups represented in Syria are able to commit such atrocities. This is not true. It is a lie. The people of Syria are like people everywhere; they are not psychopathic killers. Indeed, the people of Syria express love for their country and other Syrians in a way which would embarrass Australians. For people to kill civilians as they have in this instance, they must be motivated by a hatred and an ideology as powerful as Nazism, an ideology which condones the killing of people who are not like them. Takfiri militants have such an ideology. And there are people claiming to be clerics who incite them to commit the most bestial acts of violence.
In the cities of Syria, people are living together in harmony, as they always have. But there are serious efforts being made to stir up the basest hatred possible in man. Unless this is exposed by the mainstream media and condemned by politicians, it will continue. Islam, which is a religion of peace and love, is being distorted for the purposes of war. And Christian majority countries have been silent about this; journalists, commentators, editors, media owners, the ABC, the government, DFAT, ASIO, and politicians must research and analyze events in Syria. They must consider how reporting the war in sectarian terms might stir up tensions and encourage young people from our own community to travel to Syria to support the Takfiris. They must assess the information they receive from different quarters of the Syrian Australian community and question the motivation of some who promote the most basic and distorted descriptions of the war. They must look at the different views presented them and consider whether this or that picture of Syria can lead to peace or to an escalation of hatred and war. Who will keep killing for their ‘martyrs’?
Attention must be given these massacres and there must be a reassessment of massacres that have been blamed on the Syrian government. A cursory search online provides reason for this questioning. The Australian government expelled two senior Syrian diplomats just a few days after the Houla massacre in May 2012. This was a response to claims in the press that the government was responsible for the massacre. Serious and sober investigations suggest that anti-government forces were. Official UN reports may dispute this, but the reports of the UN investigators on the ground were not made public. Why not? Investigative journalism is needed more than ever this century. This is not to suggest that the Syrian army or security forces are not guilty of human rights abuses; every army in the world is and in this sort of war, there will be many crimes committed; there is so much fear, so much blood, and so little known about the ‘enemy’. This is to draw attention to the most extreme and ugly ideology, one that does not have constraints and guidelines and procedures and punishments accepted by the international community. It is an ideology that encourages the massacres of innocent people. It is to draw attention to our silence and ignorance, and our unwitting complicity, perhaps. It is to draw attention to the possible growth of that ideology in our own society if the truth about events in Syria are not exposed. The war in Syria is very much our war, but whose side are we on?
Image: Whirling Dervish in Damascus, 2009.
THE LATTAKIA MASSACRES EARLY AUGUST 2103
This documentary was aired almost two weeks ago. I am describing it in English. It is about the massacres, kidnappings and destruction in the Lattakia countryside in the first week of August this year. I am also listing the initial list of names of victims and those kidnapped.
Ogarite Dandache of Mayadeen TV produced a special report on the massacres, kidnappings and attacks in the Lattakia area in the first week of August 2013.
The documentary is in Arabic. The following is an interpretation of what the documentary was about.
The first part of the documentary interviews survivors. One child describes how she hid for three days without food or water. Fifteen people from her village, including relatives were killed. One of the children was recognised in a hospital in Turkey and was brought back to Syria. A doctor speaks about the child’s case. He says the girl has had surgery but as shrapnel is still inside her body he is unable to ascertain what her operation was for. There have been reports of kidnappings with the victims being taken to Turkey for organ harvesting. The little girl says all she remembers was being taken to Turkey with her mother.
Another little girl was hiding in the forest for eleven days without food or water until rescued by the army. Her Aunty is with her in the hospital and said the child has hardly spoken but described that the terrorists came from all directions and took many hostages who till today are still missing. The Aunty described her niece as so traumatized that she barely speaks at all and appears scared of everyone including her family. The child recollected walking with her father and brothers when suddenly they came under attack. She was unsure whether her father was hit by gunfire but she hid in the forest. The Aunty ponders how this child will react when she comes out of shock and realises that 50 members of her family have been killed. The final toll of victims is still unknown.
A boy speaks of being outside when he and his family were shot at by machine gunfire. His father was hit and his male cousin was taken hostage. The boy hid in his cousin’s house with his grandmother and other relatives and things got worse as the house was shelled and his brother was hit in the back and died.
An elderly woman shares her harrowing experience. She came from a small hamlet comprised of three houses. Realising that the terrorists were closing in from all directions she said to her husband that they were coming to kill them. Her husband said they would have to kill him first before anything happened to the family. He was killed. The elderly woman felt great fear for the girls in the family. They managed to hide but the shelling was so bad and the terrorists kidnapped members of the family.
Ogarite showed a map of the areas where the attacks happened. She stated that the terrorists had been in the area for some time and that it wasn’t the first time there had been attacks. She revealed that these attacks were made possible due to some traitors inside the Syrian Arab Army who had defected and given inside information. She explained that the terrain and conditions were not easy for the terrorists to hold and they either retreated or were killed after a short period.
The terrorists aim was to strike a psychological blow to the President and the nation by hitting the village of the birthplace of the Assads. The terrorists had become desperate for some gains due to their failures throughout the country and their failed goal of declaring on Eid an Islamic Emirate in Aleppo. Another objective was to inflame sectarian tensions in Lattakia but that aslo failed. They wanted to lure other militants into the area to support them and to ease pressure off their colleagues in Aleppo by creating a side battle.
In a village called Nabi Younis, the terrorists were faced by strong resistance and were unable to take over. The village is on a hill top in a strategic area. The reporter interviewed the Army commander in charge of defending this town. He explained that it is a key point between the coast and Hama as well as between Idlib and Aleppo and control of this area blocks the terrorists from advancing on other fronts. The commander said their fight was one to defend the country, one of principles and this ground had to be held as imperative.
At the time of this documentary being filmed there were areas where the battles were still going on. Another strategic hill top was under heavy fire and sniper fire. From this point onwards soldiers had to clear the area with artillery and then proceed with hand to hand combat. The journalist had to stop for some time shielding herself from gunfire.
All these areas at the time of the documentary being filmed were close to being secured by the Army.
Ogarite Dandache continued throughout various locations with the Army coming across many abandoned weapons and devices. In one place there were packages of charges and explosives left behind, most likely to be used to block the road leaving it impassable. Packages of foodstuffs and water were found, water and food packages made in Turkey, dates from Qatar amongst other items.
The soldiers came across and ancient cave church called Tallet Al Khodr . It is a shrine to an Islamic saint with pictures of Mother Mary adorning it.
The Army and journalist entered the area near Balouta, a village in the hands of the terrorists. They prepare to take the village back under control. Entering the village they see deceased villagers and a donkey runs around hysterically. Missiles being launched are seen close by. Soldiers take positions throughout the olive groves.
In the village plastic chairs strategically placed in sunny spots sit empty and forlorne. The once idyllic and picturesque village is all smashed up. More foodstuffs are found. The packaging is written in Turkish. Throughout the village homes are completely smashed, photographs of the inhabitants lie everywhere on the ground, photos of children, weddings and happy moments.
Various banners and scrawled messages are around indicating which gangs of terrorists were in this village. Battles went on for two weeks in this village. Some of the names of the gangs were displayed; “Jabhat al Nusra”, “Dawat al Islam”, “Katibet Soukour al-Iz”, “The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham” and “Haraqat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyyah”.
The land is back in the hands of the people but the people are not there. Many have been killed, many taken hostage and many will return to see their homes in ruins.
Names of the victims of the massacres which wiped out entire families, committed by #Al_Nusra_Front backed by hundreds of terrorists from ( #Baghdad_and_Al_Sham_Islamic_State_Army ) terrorist group against the civillians in 8 villages in the countryside north-eastern city of #Latakia and #Slenfeh.
This happened at the dawn of Sunday 4/8/2013 :
Victims names in village “#Nabata“:
1 – Hafez Mehrez Shehadeh, 80 years old.
2 – Kamal Mohammed Shehadeh and his wife and their three children:
– Rend a 11-year-old girl.
– Nasr 9 years.
– Mohammed 7 years.
7 – Jafar alSheikh …. a child of 4 years,he was scared so he asked for water to drink …, a bearded man stabbed him to death.
8 – Yassin Najdat Shehadeh.
9 – Jaudat Shehadeh.
10 – Emad El Sheikh.
11 – Tamadur Salim Shehadeh,17 years old.
12 -Khitam Adeeb Shehadeh.
13 – Ibrahim AlSheikh.
Names of kidnapped people from village “#Nabata”:
1 – Hajja Sheikh Ibrahim (Hafiz Shehadeh’s wife).
2- Fahima Mohamed Osman.
3- Ramza al Sheikh and (4)her daughter Tayma.
5- Child: Amer Ghassan Yahya
6- Ahmed Shehadeh and (7) his wife Shaza Hattab and (8) their little baby :9 months old.
9- Ali Hattab
10- Kazem Mehrez Shehadeh and (11) his wife Dyaa Sweid and their three children:
(12)Ola – (13)Haider – (14) Zain: one year old.
15- Mona Fatima (Kidnapped After they slaughtered her husband)
17- Samara alSheikh.
18- Lotus alSheikh.
19- Marah alSheikh.
20- Anaam alSheikh, 13 years old.
21- Bashar al-Sheikh,11 years old.
22- Ahmed Alhiekh.
23- Aktham AlSheikh.
Victims names in village “#Alhmbushiah” mostly children:
1- Hani Shakouhi.
2- Hamza Maryam.
4- Munther Darwish .
5- Hala: Munther Darwish’ wife, she was pregnant, the terrorists cut her stomach after killing her and grabbed the baby out and threw him away.
6- Ayman Maryam (a little boy).
7- Lina Qadera (a little girl).
8- Ahmad Maryam (a little boy).
9- Refaat Maryam.
10-Dalaa Maryam (a little girl).
11-Marah Maryam (a little girl).
12-Farah Maryam (a little girl).
13- Mohammad Maryam (a little boy).
14- Jaafar Ismail (a little boy).
15- Wesal Tamer.
16- Taim Shakouhi (one year old boy).
17- Tamer Shakouhi (3 years old boy).
18- Lamia Shehadeh and all of her children.
19- Intesar Maryam.
20- Asrar Maryam.
21- Narjes Maryam.
22- Wahieb Maryam.
23- Nazier Arifu.
24- Adel Maryam.
25- Wael Maryam.
Names of kidnapped people from village “#Alhmbushiah” by Al-Nusra Front:
1- Fadel Shakouhi.
2- Wazifa Shakouhi.
3- Kenanah Shakouhi.
4- Afief Shakouhi.
5- Moustafa Shakouhi.
6- Faten Maryam.
7- Wedad Maryam.
8- Elien Maryam.
9- Doaa Maryam.
Victims names in village “#AlBalouta” ,Where entire families were wiped out :
1- Azab Salim.
2-Taim Salim (1 year old).
3- Sameir Salim.
4- Haider Salim.
5- Wafik Ibrahim and his 3 children:
6- Shadi Ibrahim.
7- Meqdad Ibrahim.
8- Ghaidaq Ibrahim.
9- Nihad Deip.
10- Fawzia Deip.
11- Ghadir Deip.
12- Amjad Deip.
13- Ziena Deip
14- Ziad Deip (1 year old).
15- Hussein Ibrahim.
16- Mariam Ibrahim.
17- Zahra Ibrahim.
18- Ismail Ibrahim.
Names of the kidnapped people from this village are not known yet.
Victims names in village “#Bermseh”
1- Solaiman Fatima and (2) his wife Samira Ghanem.
3- Mohamed Fatima and (4)his wife Fekriah Yassin.
5- Nadi Fatima, and (6) his wife and (7) (8) their two sons.
9- Basem Fatima and (10) his wife and (11)(12)(13) their 3 children.
Names of the kidnapped people from this village are not known yet.
Victims names in village of “#Abu_Mecki“:
1- Asaad Solaiman Qadra.
2- Mohamed Kamel Qadra.
3- Faeqa Haidar, a school teacher.
I could not document more information about the fate of this village.
Village “#Aubin” was burned by the terrorists and we don’t know anything about the civilians fate there, yet.
These information are documented but it’s not the final and complete report
A Documentary Report on Al Nusra Massacres in Lattakia
Thursday 8 August 2013
The Syrian coast is witnessing a state of collective suicide/ mass murder perpetrated by armed men ideologically affiliated to Al Qaeda under the banner of the “liberation of the coast”. The armed groups commenced their attack on more than one interval; the operation began with these groups bombarding the villages of Kafriya, Tala, Bramsa, Anbata and Beit Alshekouhy; these villages are considered to be loyal to the Syrian leadership.
The spontaneous bombardment contributed to mass exodus from the villages, and as they were besieged, the civilians found themselves in the hands of the armed Islamists. The armed men considered themselves victorious. One of the survivors of the massacres has stated that the armed men committed crimes against humanity in villages they entered; including the liquidation of the entire family of retired army general Youssef Al Qusseiby, who was slaughtered along with his family. The survivor added that the armed men slaughtered over 136 individuals, most of whom were women and children, also relaying that a pregnant woman was slaughtered following the slitting of her belly and the killing of her fetus . Additionally, many people are missing and their whereabouts remains unknown. Information was also obtained in relation to the fact that many civilians and soldiers were taken hostage by the armed men, the most prominent of whom was Sheikh Bader Ghazal from the village of Tala, whose photograph emerged , his clothing bloodied and his face slashed, exhibiting signs of torture. After this massacre the armed groups exerted control over Anbata, Barouda and Alhamboushia, however the Syrian Army managed to regain all of this territory, with the exception of Al Hamboushia, which was regained after it was completely destroyed by the armed men. Less than 48 hours after the Syrian Army battled the armed men, it regained the greater part of the area they occupied, after killing 6 of their senior leaders, most prominent of whom was the leader of Tawheed Brigade and the battle for the “liberation of the coast” Qahtan Haaj Muhammad. The armed groups withdrew to the Haffa and Salma area, which witnessed heavy bombardment, in addition to widespread fires engulfing the northern outskirts of Lattakia.
The Syrian Army carried out bombardments against the positions of the armed groups in Saraya area, which contributed to the deaths of an unknown number of armed men who had set up base in one of the government buildings. The Syrian Army also managed to enforce a military blockade on the areas in which the armed men took refuge. In this context, an observer notes that the goal of the armed men in attacking the villages of the coast was to create a state of sectarian tension in the area in accordance with a plan devised by Saudi Intelligence under auspice from Washington. The so-called “co-ordination” committees had stated that the armed men had managed to control the area of Abrad Barouda, Anbata, Astarba, Al Hamboushia and Balouta, yet simultaneously, sources from within the armed groups, via one of the co-ordination committees, have stated that the information previously given conflicts with other sources citing that the armed men withdrew from Abrad Barouda after subjection to heavy bombardment targeting them.
Sources close to the Syrian Army have stated that “ the clashes in which the army engaged have forced the armed groups to withdraw under fire especially in Marsad Barouda and buildings in the mountain of Barouda, where “ more than thirty armed men were killed…This highlights the fact that clashes continue on many fronts as the armed opposition attempts to exert control over areas”.
The sources also indicate that “most of the dead are foreign fighters, fighting in groups affiliated to AlQuieda”, and this was evident via photographs which emerged of the dead, most of them being of Libyan and Saudi-Arabian nationality. Pertaining to the last massacre, “ Al Hor Ghazal”- one of the sheikhs of the region-confirms that none of the residents of Al Hamboushia have survived, whereas in Nabata there were nine survivors, and the rest were killed via method of slaughter; in addition to the women who were taken as sex slaves, one of whom killed herself to avoid such a fate.
In the village of Kharata, a small housing collective, the residents of which number no more than thirty-seven, all were liquidated. In Balouta, a retired army general was slaughtered, following which the residents of the village were rounded up in its centre, the children were killed in front of their parents; those who tried to run were shot to death. Despite this, ten people survived the slaughter wounded, three have since died in hospital.
The village of Asterba was also subjected to slaughter and every home was set on fire. Sheikh Muwafaq Ghazal stated that “ on Sunday morning Sheikh Bader Ghazal (one of the religious notables of the Alawite community in the area) was in Barouda for Qadr night which is commemorated towards the end of the month of Ramadan and he remained there until morning, the armed attack on the area occurred, and the sheikh was kidnapped. The village was subjected to massacre, and the family with whom the sheikh were staying were all slaughtered”. Sheikh Muwafaq Ghazal added that the number of martyrs from the massacre at Barouda exceeded fifty women and children, and male and female youth were bound and taken as sex slaves, their fate still unknown.
The massacre commenced in the village of Ramtha, where the armed men killed eighteen to twenty people, no survivors with the exception of one who ran towards the forest. The residents of Barouda and Kharaba were all killed by method of slaughter, and in Alhamoushia at least fifty people were killed. The number of martyrs in all the villages combined number approximately 400 people, with a great number of women, children and sheikhs kidnapped and taken to the villages of Doriya and Salma where they are subjected to torture. The armed groups acknowledged holding 150 hostages including women and the sheikh, demanding an exchange.
Sheikh Muwafaq Ghazal stated that “ the point of these massacres is to create sectarian conflict between Alawites and Sunnis, however the sons and daughters of the Alawite community will not resort to these divisive actions, given that the kidnappers contacted one of the families and requested an exchange to take place- 150 hostages for three Libyan prisoners broadcast on Syrian Television three days prior”. A large number of the victims of the massacres committed by” Jabhat Al Nusra” and the” Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” in eight villages on the northern outskirts of Lattakia resulted in the liquidation of entire families.
The victims of Nabata:
Hafez Mehrez Shahada- 80 years
Kamal Muhammad Shahada, his wife and three children; Rand- 11 years; Naser- 9 years; Muhammad 7 years
Jaffar Alsheikh- 4 years. Jaffar, in terror, asked to drink water, and one of the armed men stabbed him to death.
Yaseen Najdat Shahada
Tamador Saleem Shahada- 17 years
Khitam Adib Shahada
Ibraheem Al Sheikh
The kidnapped of Nabata
The wife of Hafez Shahada, and Fahima Muhhamad Suleiman, his second wife
Ramza Alsheikh and her daughter Taymaa
The child Amer Ghassan Yahya
Ahmad Shahada and his wife Shazza Hitaab and their nine month old son
Kazem Mehrez Shahada, his wife Diaa Sweid and their three children, Ala, Heidar and Zein, who is one.
Mona Fatima, kidnapped after her husband was slaughtered
Lotus Al Sheikh
Marah Alsheikh; the three daughters of Emad Al Sheikh, who was slaughtered
Inaam Alsheikh- 13 years
Bashar Alsheikh- 11 years
The victims of Al Hamboushia, mostly children
Hala, wife of Munzir Darweish, the pregnant woman who was slaughtered and her belly slit open, killing the fetus
The child Ayman Mariam
The child Lina Qadra
The child Ahmad Mariam
The child Dalaa Mariam
The child Muhammad Mariam
The child Marah Mariam
The child Farah Mariam
The child Muhammad Mariam
The child Jaafar Ismail
Taim Shakouhy- one year old child
Tamer Shakouhy- 3 years old
Lamiya Shahada and all of her children
Those kidnapped by Jabhat Al Nusra of Al Hamboushia village
The Victims of Balouta village- entire families were liquidated here
Taim Salim- one year old child
Wafiq Ibrahim and all of his three children
Ziad Deeb- one year old child
The names of those kidnapped from Balouta are unknown
The Victims of Bramsa
Sleiman Fateema and his wife Samira Ghanem
Muhammad Fateema and his wife Fakeera Yasseen
Nadi Fateema, his wife and their two children
Bassem Fateema, his wife and three children
Until this point in time, the names of the kidnapped of Bramsa remain unknown
The victims of Abu Makka
Asaad Sleiman Qadra
Muhammad Kamel Qadra
Faeqa Haidar- teacher