Syrian Rebels Responsible for Houla Massacre

June 11, 2012

(EYE)(NRO) It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the “tipping point” in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people, predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western media. Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries announced that they were expelling Syria’s ambassadors in protest.
But according to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad. For its account of the massacre, the report cites opponents of Assad, who, however, declined to have their names appear in print out of fear of reprisals from armed opposition groups.
According to the article’s sources, the massacre occurred after rebel forces attacked three army-controlled roadblocks outside of Houla. The roadblocks had been set up to protect nearby Alawi majority villages from attacks by Sunni militias. The rebel attacks provoked a call for reinforcements by the besieged army units. Syrian army and rebel forces are reported to have engaged in battle for some 90 minutes, during which time “dozens of soldiers and rebels” were killed.
“According to eyewitness accounts,” the FAZ report continues,

the massacre occurred during this time. Those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. Over 90% of Houla’s population are Sunnis. Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.

The FAZ report echoes eyewitness accounts collected from refugees from the Houla region by members of the Monastery of St. James in Qara, Syria. According to monastery sources cited by the Dutch Middle East expert Martin Janssen, armed rebels murdered “entire Alawi families” in the village of Taldo in the Houla region.
Already at the beginning of April, Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix of the St. James Monastery warned of rebel atrocities’ being repackaged in both Arab and Western media accounts as regime atrocities. She cited the case of a massacre in the Khalidiya neighborhood in Homs. According to an account published in French on the monastery’s website, rebels gathered Christian and Alawi hostages in a building in Khalidiya and blew up the building with dynamite. They then attributed the crime to the regular Syrian army. “Even though this act has been attributed to regular army forces . . . , the evidence and testimony are irrefutable: It was an operation undertaken by armed groups affiliated with the opposition,” Mother Agnès-Mariam wrote.

sit back make popcorn


Annan ends Syria visit with no clear progress

March 12, 2012

Media_https1reutersme_aphvhRussia and China are kind of right here. We should not get involved. This is not our war.

(Reuters) U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has ended talks with President Bashar al-Assad and left Syria with little sign of progress on halting the country’s growing political bloodshed. “I am optimistic for several reasons,” Annan said in Damascus on Sunday. “The situation is so bad and so dangerous that all of us cannot afford to fail.” There was no clear response from Assad to Annan’s “concrete proposals” for a ceasefire, dialogue and humanitarian aid. Assad told Annan opposition “terrorists” were blocking any political solution. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York on Monday when the U.N. Security Council holds a special meeting on Arab revolts. Russia, long an ally of Syria, and China have blocked attempts to pass a Security Council resolution condemning Damascus for its attempts to crush a year-old rebellion by force, in which thousands have died. Moscow and Beijing want any international blame for the violence to be apportioned more evenly. China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said in Riyadh on Sunday both Syrian sides should stop fighting and aid should be sent to strife-torn areas – but he also warned other states not to use aid to “interfere”. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have taken a hawkish line against the Syrian government. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Feisal on Sunday repeated calls for the Syrian opposition to be provided with weapons. This was the only way to end the conflict without foreign intervention, he said. “The regime in Syria is committing a massacre of its own citizens,” he added, after talks with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Riyadh. “We cannot accept the completely unreasonable continuation of the atrocities being perpetrated by the Assad regime against its own people,” Westerwelle said. The United Nations says Assad’s forces have killed more than 7,500 people in their crackdown on protesters and insurgents. Authorities say rebels have killed 2,000 soldiers. Annan’s mission coincided with a Syrian military offensive against opposition strongholds in the northwest. Activists said at least four people were killed in the town of Idlib on Sunday after troops and tanks moved in a day earlier. Three soldiers and a civilian were also killed in fighting in the village of Janoudiya in Idlib province on Sunday morning, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. State news agency SANA said “terrorists” shot dead a former boxing champion, Ghiath Tayfour, in the city of Aleppo and also killed a leading Baath Party member in Homs province. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are both ruled by autocrats and espouse a strict version of Sunni Islam, are improbable champions of democracy in Syria. Riyadh has an interest in seeing Assad fall because this could weaken its Shi’ite regional rival Iran, which has been allied with Syria since 1980. The exiled opposition Syrian National Council ruled out talks while Assad is in power. “Negotiations can never take place between the victim and torturer: Assad and his entourage must step down as a condition before starting any serious negotiations,” it said. (Andrew Roche and Dominc Evans)