Readers may remember that a few months ago I published some testimony on the Ishtabraq massacre that occurred in Idlib province in 2015. The testimony came from Feda Ibrahim Fakhro, who is originally from Ishtabraq and is a member of the 'Syrian Human Rights Network' that operates in government-held areas in Syria. I then decided I wanted to look into other cases this organisation has covered. One of them is the massacres that were committed by the insurgent groups during the offensive they launched in northeast Latakia countryside in August 2013. The offensive was dubbed the 'Battle of the Descendants of A'isha the Mother of the Believers.' A range of groups participated in the offensive, including 'Free Syrian Army' formations and jihadist factions like Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. There was some coverage of the violations committed by the insurgent groups in a report of Human Rights Watch released in October 2013. In my view these violations should not be forgotten, nor should one forget the coordination between the 'Free Syrian Army' groups and the jihadists at the time.
Below is an account of the Latakia massacres written by Dr. Ahmad Khazim, who heads the 'Syrian Human Rights Network' and provided the account to me.
On the seventh anniversary the Syrian Network for Human Rights issues its report about the massacre of Latakia countryside that took the lives of thousands of civilians from women, children and elderly in the defenceless villages whose people rely on agriculture and are renowned for goodness and simplicity. So it was a dreadful massacre, shocking to humanity.
The massacre that the terrorist groups committed on 4 August 2013 against defenceless civilians was classified at the time by human rights organisations as being a massacre against humanity and it is considered a war crime with no statute of limitations, and it is considered a crime of genocide and to it are applicable the clauses of the convention against torture and cruel and inhumane treatment. It is also considered a crime of forced disappearance for what befell the people of the villages from acts of killing, violence, rape, disappearance and kidnapping. The fate of some of them remains until now unknown. And those responsible for it and their supporters and financers must be brought to the international criminal court in accordance with the Rome Statute.
At the time the armed terrorist groups in the first hour of dawn on 4 August 2013 committed a massacre in north Latakia countryside during a dangerous terrorist attack undertaken by groups of the so-called Free Army on villages in Latakia countryside within a battle they called 'The Battle of the Descendants of A'isha the Mother of the Believers.' There participated in the attack 2300 terrorists, most of them affiliated with the Free Army and Jabhat al-Nusra.
And there were among the attackers 350 Arab and foreign terrorists, who came from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya and Chechnya.
The course of the terrorist attack:
In the first hours of dawn the terrorists, beginning from the village of Salma and Jabal al-Turkoman and Jabal al-Akrad, attacked 19 villages and farms, most of whose inhabitants are of the Alawite sect in the northeast Latakia countryside. They proceeded to slaughter the civilians in their different ages and kidnapped dozens.
They also burned the houses of worship and homes after their plundering. The villages that were attacked are: Baramsa, Mazra'at al-Takhiribiya, Anbatah, Bayt al-Shakuhi, Awbin, Abu Makka, Mazra'at al-Qali'a, Balata, Kharbat Baz, al-Hanbushiya, Baruda, Kharba, Talla, Baluta, Alama, al-Ramatha, Kanfa.
At dawn, while the people were sleeping, more than 300 terrorists attacked the village of Baruda, so they brought the inhabitants out to the village square and slaughtered dozens of them and kidnapped dozens: among them Sheikh Badr al-Din Muhib Ghazal, graduate of the Shari'a college and mufti of the Ja'afari sect, appointed by the Ministry of Awqaf.
In the village of Baluta dozens were slaughtered with military bayonets and machetes, and their heads were cut off and they were buried in a ditch and mass graves. Also the terrorists cut off the limbs of some of the women and disembowelled the pregnant women and took out the foetus and slaughtered it, in addition to raping others.
As for in al-Ramatha, 19 civilians were slaughtered and killed by the Ahrar al-Sham battalions and the Nusrat al-Madhloum battalions and the Mujahideen of the Sahel movement, and all of them are factions aligned with Free Army and receive orders from their leaders who receive for their part the orders from the Turkish army and Erdogan personally. And all the statements at the time were issued in the name of the Free Army.
The states responsible for the attack: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. For the coordination was at different levels, among them leadership, financing and intelligence apparatuses of states, as well as the incitement and the media camouflage for the massacre. Note that the attack began from the Sanjak of Alexandretta that is occupied by Turkey, and under the eyes of the Turkish army as well as its support and morale and field cover for the attack.
The number of martyrs according to the field sources approaches thousands of martyrs.
It is to be noted and according to eye witnesses that the armed men poured water into big cooking pots and placed the children in them while they were alive, and this is a crime that has not been mentioned for its monstrosity and enormity.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights demands the formation of an international committee to investigate this crime and other crimes committed on the Syrian lands without exception, and to bring forth the one whose involvement in them is proven to the international criminal court in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law and in accordance with the Rome Statute.
Dr. Ahmad Khazim head of the Syrian Network for Human Rights.