A Massacre in Syria

There is word leaking out of a massacre perpetrated by Syrian authorities in the town of Deraa, which has been a hotbed of anti-government protests.  Syrian forces moved into the town about 10 days ago, and since then have been reportedly using snipers to pick off protesters and heavy artillery to punish entire neighborhoods.

From the International Federation for Human Rights report, “Deraa: Ten Days of Massacres.”

Security forces continue their attack on the city, snipers have been stationed on the rooftops of high buildings and are targeting any moving persons, and units composed of four-army forces have been using anti-aircraft machine guns to target densely populated neighborhoods, such as Al-Mahata and Daraa Al-Balad in the city of Daraa. “Every single house around the Omari Mosque has been targeted” said an eyewitness that DCHRS managed to talk with.

Another eyewitness in Daraa told DCHRS that army and security officers are preventing residents from leaving their homes or even from removing dead bodies from the streets. “Dead bodies remain in the streets for more than 24 hours and then disappear.”

Authorities strictly prevented the burial of any of the dead. “We had three refrigerated trucks, that were used for shipping food in and out of Syria, in which we kept 80 bodies per truck, after three days security forces took the trucks and returned them empty,” he said.

And this from the BBC:

Amateur footage uploaded on YouTube on 26 April appears to show tanks firing indiscriminately on unarmed protesters. The BBC has not been able to contact the person who shot the video, but it appears to be credible.

The men are heard screaming for ambulances and shouting “You dogs, you traitors, you child-killers, Assad you dog”.

The crackdown is not confined to Deraa. In other developments reported by activists and human rights:

  • – Hundreds of Syrian troops stormed the Damascus suburb of Saqba overnight – breaking into houses and arresting about 300 people, witnesses say. In Douma, there were reports that government-backed “thugs” and security forces had raided two hospitals – Hamdan and Noor. And At least 30 people were arrested in the Damascus district of Tal on Wednesday, including men in their 70s or 80s.
  • – Elsewhere in the country, troops and tanks are reported to have been sent to the town of Rastan near the central city of Homs, and Baniyas on the coast

Ban Ki Moon has called for an independent investigation of these alleged abuses and the European Union are contemplating a series of sanctions on the government. In the meantime, I think we can probably expect things to get worse. Tomorrow is Friday–typically the big protest day during this Arab Spring–and it would seem that the Syrian authorities are not inclined to hold their fire.