June 09, 2012
Prime German Paper: Syrian Rebels Committed Houla Massacre
The prime German daily, the center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has a new report (in German) about the Houla massacre. The author is Rainer Hermann who studied and speaks Arabic, Turkish and Farsi. Hermann also has a PhD in economics and wrote his thesis about the modern Syrian social history. He currently lives in Abu Dhabi and has been reporting from the Middle East for over 22 years.
What follows is my translation of the relevant parts of his report, which is datelined from Damascus, about the Houla massacre:
Syrian opposition members who are from that region were during the last days able to reconstruct the most likely sequence of events based on accounts from authentic witnesses. Their result contradicts the pretenses from the rebels who had accused regime allied Shabiha they alleged were acting under the protection of the Syrian army. As opposition members who reject the use of lethal force were recently killed or at least threatened, the opposition members [talking to me] asked that their names be withheld.
The massacre of Houla happened after Friday prayers. The fighting started when Sunni rebels attacked three Syrian army checkpoints around Houla. These checkpoints were set up to protect the Alawi villages around the predominantly Sunni Houla from assaults.
One attacked checkpoint called up units from the Syrian army, which has barracks some 1500 meters away, for help and was immediately reinforced. Dozens of soldiers and rebels were killed during the fighting around Houla which is said to have lasted about 90 minutes. During these fights the three villages were closed off from the outside world.
According to the witness accounts the massacre happened during this timeframe. Killed were nearly exclusively families from the Alawi and Shia minorities in Houla which has a more than 90% Sunni population. Several dozen members of one extended family, which had in recent years converted from Sunni to Shia believe, were slaughtered. Also killed were members of the Alawi family Shomaliya and the family of a Sunni member of parliament who was [by the rebels] considered a government collaborator. Members of the Syrian government confirmed this version but pointed out that the government committed to not publicly speak of Sunnis and Alawis. President al-Assad is Alawi while the opposition is overwhelmingly from the Sunni population majority.
While I do not agree with the FAZ's general editorial positions, I have followed Rainer Hermann reports for years. In my view he is an very reliable and knowledgeable reporter who would not have written the above if he had doubts or no additional confirmation about what he was told by the opposition members he talked to.
Posted by b on June 9, 2012 at 02:51 PM | Permalink
People working for the western media have blood on their hands for covering up the truth. They are also effectively encouraging anti-government sectarian salafists to murder more innocent children, because the Saudi, Qatari, and Turkish backed salafists know that the western media will immediately blame the government after every massacre they carry out.
Posted by: Amar | Jun 9, 2012 3:14:20 PM | 1
I do not believe Rainer Hermann's report where he says the families killed at Houla were mostly Alawis or Shiites in their religion. The neighborhood where the killings occurred were under rebel control, or more exactly they were not under the control of the government forces of law and order. What happens in Syria in such neighborhoods -- and I've seen this repeatedly since last summer -- is that the pro-government people of the neighborhood leave the neighborhood because (a) it's just too dangerous and (b) there is too much of a breakdown of basic services in the neighborhood (no open shops, no open schools, etc.), and, especially, the people of the minority religions leave the neighborhood. If there were Alawis still living in the Al-Houla area where the killings took place, it would've been a highly unusual break with the prevailing pattern of behaviour in Syria this past year. Another thing to note about Rainer Hermann's report is he says "three Syrian army checkpoints around Houla... were set up to protect the Alawi villages around the predominantly Sunni Houla from assaults." I don't know whether that is true, and I tend to presume it is NOT true. But if you assume it IS true, it is inconsistent with, and in contradiction with, Rainer Hermann's report that the Alawis within the Al-Houla town chose to keep on living there. That is, in case you don't see the inconsistency, if the army judged it truly necessary to set up checkpoints just outside the rebel-controlled Al-Houla town to protect the Alawis who live in the Alawi villages a few kilometers outside the town, then it would be beyond rash for any of the Alawis who lived inside Al-Houla town to continue to live there.
So I don't believe Rainer Hermann's report where he claims that the victims were mostly Alawis. From that, I have to doubt the entirety of his report.
It is true that Syrian government-controlled information outlets normally avoid sectarian IDs in news reports. But extend belief to what Rainer Hermann is reporting should require more than his repeat of the testimony of his anonymous sources.
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 9, 2012 6:45:46 PM | 3
"if the army judged it truly necessary to set up checkpoints just outside the rebel-controlled Al-Houla town to protect the Alawis who live in the Alawi villages a few kilometers outside the town, then it would be beyond rash for any of the Alawis who lived inside Al-Houla town to continue to live there."
By your logic, all shia would have moved out of Baghdad.
Posted by: nikon | Jun 9, 2012 6:50:45 PM | 4
@ Nikon : Let me repeat, in Syria when rebels take over a neighborhood, most people leave the neighborhood and especially all or essentially all the people of minority religion leave the neighborhood. If that did not happen in Al-Houla town it would've been a highly unusual break with the prevailing pattern of behaviour in Syria this past year. That's fact; it's not logic. I do not know what you think you're talking about in your logic, and so I won't reply to it.
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 9, 2012 6:58:29 PM | 5
Parviziyi @ 3 -- Other sources linked to here at MofA have mentoned that the families killed at Houla were supporters of the government and one family had a member who won a seat in the new legislature, right?
(Question: Does anyone know for sure that the elected member of the legislature was killed in Houla? The wording above and elsewhere could include him in the dead, but it's not spelled out.)
It is next to impossible to even guess at the identity of those killed --or the numbers killed-- in Qubeir, as so much was cleaned up before UN observers got there, along with some members of the Western press.
Some Syrian witnesses said the families killed in Houla had refused to give support or money to the "activists," aka rebels, but I don't recall they're being identified as Alawite or Shia, just nonsupportive of the "activists."
I can't say definitively why they were massacred, but, again, Cui bono? seems a good question to ask.
Posted by: jawbone | Jun 9, 2012 7:06:03 PM | 6
@ jawbone: Yes we have good grounds to believe the families killed at Al-Houla were government supporters, including the relatives of a certain member of parliament. The member of parliament himself was not in the town at the time of the massacre. On the cui bono question, I suggested earlier on this board "a possible motive for massacering them would be to put fear into others in the Houla area, which would drive out many of the remaining government supporters from the Houla area and leave the ground more solidly under the control of the rebels." http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/05/syria-it-is-getting-urgent-for-assad-to-act.html#c6a00d8341c640e53ef016766d39365970b
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 9, 2012 7:20:43 PM | 7
here's a new video, supposedly from today in syria (the 10th)
the tweet said "Terrorists bombing in #Syria 101, 1st fix the camera on the intended target then detonate & blame the army. #Damascus"
Posted by: annie | Jun 9, 2012 9:18:14 PM | 8
Parviziyi 3 gets this one wrong...and after he lectured me on avoiding speculation what does he do...but speculates!
the german paper is in agreement with other reports.
Posted by: brian | Jun 9, 2012 10:39:47 PM | 9
Who committed the Houla massacre? "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...."
Posted by: brian | Jun 9, 2012 11:07:05 PM | 10
- DAMASCUS, (SANA) – The Syrian TV broadcast on Saturday a documentary shedding light on the terrorist bombings which took place in Damascus, revealing that terrorists of various nationalities from the terrorist organization Jabhet al-Nasra, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, planned and carried out these bombings which killed and wounded hundreds.
The documentary revealed that the terrorist bombings which targeted al-Qazzaz area on March 8th was carried out by terrorists from this group who drove two cars rigged earlier with explosive in a farm in al-Mleha area southeast of Damascus.
The two cars were driven by a Jordanian terrorists nicknamed Abu Musaab and a Syrian Palestinian called Mohammad Ali Ghazi, and were trailed by an Iraqi known as Marwan who supervised the operation. Mohammad's brother, Muayad Ali Ghazi, provided one of the cars and helped rig all the car bombs used in Damascus, along with terrorist Mohammad Ahmad Kamaleddin, a Syrian from Serghaya, Yasser, another Syrian, and an Iraqi known as Allawi.
Posted by: brian | Jun 10, 2012 12:03:06 AM | 12
From the way things are going, it seems there's a great possibility of a regional sectarian war which all the actors that's been pushing this agenda in Syria won't be left standing..
Syria IS the glue that binds the entire region..Anyone messing with it is really asking for it..Devoted Shih's in Iraq, Lebanon, Eastern Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran won't sit down and watch Saudi-Qatari backed/funded terrorists destroy Syria in the name of democracy - something they themselves are not..
If this becomes a sectarian war, the Wahabbis(not Sunnis) have more to loose..Christians, Kurds, Alawites etc. wont want to be ruled by this extremist branch of Islam who're more or less like the Taliban..
Already, Iranian IRGC commander have been making noise about fighting alongside the "resistance" in Syria (http://www.uskowioniran.com/2012/06/iran-to-help-pro-assad-resistance.html) .This is increasingly becoming a regional/sectarian war..The US will lose everything they've built over the decades in the process - which is not a bad thing when you look at it.
Posted by: Zico | Jun 10, 2012 2:44:41 AM | 14
Syriaonline shared a link via News Network Doma City شبكة أخبار دوما.
7 hours ago
Syrian TV Shows Documentary on Bombings Planned and Carried out by Al Qaeda-Affiliated Jabhet al-Nasra in Damascus
only in arabic
Posted by: brian | Jun 10, 2012 2:56:31 AM | 15
Syria should leverage this foreign invasion by funneling the qaeda jihadis down the road to Quneitra, and right into the zionists' backyard. Throw the al qaeda in Israel's lap- the stolen Golan turf is literally just across a low barb wired fence. Let the transnational terrorists flow directly to their sponsors- the jewish puppeteers. Take back Palestine. Syria is NOT the enemy.
Posted by: .vat | Jun 10, 2012 3:08:27 AM | 16
Your article title seems to suggest that this is an important victory for the Syrian government. The next visit of a foreign dignitary to Germany, Merkel will still accuse Syrian government of complicit in the Hula massacre, she still insists that Ahmadinejad said "Wipe Israel from the map". It will not make an iota of a difference, she will sing from her Zionist masters hymn.
Posted by: hans | Jun 10, 2012 3:50:22 AM | 18
>>> Parviziyi 3 gets this one wrong...>>>
Brian #8, both of you are very much on the same wave length and can't take criticism of any kind about Syria. Been noticing that there are other monologue-loving Moonies here in the same boat as you guys that get upset when someone disagrees with you.
Posted by: www | Jun 10, 2012 3:53:43 AM | 19
www 8 seems upset that someone disagrees with him...
and hans 18
yes Merkel is a stooge....stooges and their crave policies need to be confronted
there will be no change in the EU situation till their is a better class of people in politics
Posted by: brian | Jun 10, 2012 3:57:46 AM | 20
'They walked for a very few minutes, the unarmed police watching them from the wayside, then a man next to him pulled out a gun and shot the nearest policeman dead.'
A riot followed, reported by foreign TV stations as a police attack on peaceful marchers.
I expect to have more to say on this in weeks to come.
'The news being accepted as truth by BBC World News is so biased these days that I no longer believe what they say about anything any more, after more than 60 years of crediting them with the truth.''
The sleeper awakes
my one objection here is Hitchens:
'As far as I can discover, they are not stooges of what they agree to be a rather nasty government in Damascus'
thats not what syrians think..but westerners are usually clueless and easily led by media propaganda...the article is a step forward
Posted by: brian | Jun 10, 2012 5:58:56 AM | 21
zionists aid islamic terrorists:
Press TV @PressTV
Israeli airplanes are smuggling weapons into Syria through Iraq's Kurdistan region, Syrian sources told Press TV. http://fb.me/1Hej1ZUAy
Retweeted by Joud
Posted by: brian | Jun 10, 2012 8:43:50 AM | 22
RTE (the Irish version of the BBC) was discussing the Channel 4 journalist set up by the Syrian rebels this morning on the radio. Strangely they brought on the Guardians World Affairs Editor to discuss it and he basically admitted that a lot of the rebels can't be trusted (I say strangely because of the Guardians stance on Syria is so different from what the Guardians World Affairs Editor said on the phone).
In the radio interview he said (to paraphrase)
The trap set for the Channel 4 reporter: "Was the most cynical type of propaganda there is. You can see how the Syrian rebels would benefit from leading a Western journalist into incoming Syrian army fire".
Asked about outside forces (Saudi, Qatar) stoking the violence: He talked about the "Fog of War" and how it is difficult to know what is true and whats not. Mentioned Russia arming Assad.
On What to Do: He talked about the need for more sanctions to put pressure on the regime, which got a kickback from some of the other guests, one saying that "starving people will not solve the humanitarian situation" which I thought was pretty well said.
Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jun 10, 2012 8:44:49 AM | 23
>>> If this becomes a sectarian war, the Wahabbis(not Sunnis) have more to loose..>>>
Zico #14, your predictions aren't accurate as the Wahabi states of Saudia, Qatar and UAE have already won in Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and Bahrain. Kuwait, Morocco, Algeria and Jordan are not far behind. There are no countries left for Syria to bind. With power now held in so many countries by the Salafi, Brotherhood and Wahabi Sunnis, plain Sunnism is fading away. When Syria was illegitimately suspended by the 22-member Arab League and the meeting was summarily adjourned, only Algeria and Lebanon objected to this irregularity and at that, when the Algerian rep raised a stink about the proceedings, he was told by the AL President to shut up as Algeria could be next on the list, and he did. That shows that there aren't that many Arab countries being held together by Syria and I can't see which countries would oppose the fundamentalists, as you said.
Iran's got enough of its own problems to send an armed force to Syria.
Posted by: www | Jun 10, 2012 9:21:42 AM | 25
Blood on their hands?How about at least ankle deep,and unfortunately,the American people take the blame and reprisals,while these pieces of excrement lie in hot tubs of mixed bodily fluids(ooh) congratulating themselves on the moral and academic superiority of miseducated morons of godlike attributes with feet of mud.
Ten camels for Obomba?I thought he was a Kool smoker(of dead).
Posted by: dahoit | Jun 10, 2012 10:48:26 AM | 26
Regarding Egypt there is now an intense hatred for KSA among most of the country. This includes many who are sympathetic to the Brothers. The pro Saudi faction is considerably smaller. I suspect Tunisia is the same way.
Granted, Saudi has a lot of money and Egypt being a poor country is susceptible. But that only gets them so far. They don't have Egypt by any stretch and I'm willing to bet they wont get it. As for Tunisia, IIRC there was a big Syria opposition wing ding there some 6 months ago and it was swamped by Pro Assad protesters.
Lastly, KSA itself has to fear that its own uprising isn't that far away.
Posted by: Lysander | Jun 10, 2012 10:49:13 AM | 27
How could Iran send troops to Syria without our interference?Syria does not border Iran,and any troop movement would have to be ok'd by one of our puppets,which aint happening.Money support maybe,but troops?
Posted by: dahoit | Jun 10, 2012 10:53:45 AM | 28
@ Brian #9 : I'm always grateful and pleased when somebody proves me wrong. When I am proved wrong I am a wiser and smarter person for it. But you waste your breath and my time when you say I "get this one wrong" when you have no evidence to support yourself. Another thing is, Brian, I didn't lecture you to avoid speculation; I lectured you to avoid believing things upon insufficient evidence. I'll lecture you again. What Rainer Hermann offers in his report is nothing more than a retelling of claims made by anonymous sources. You should require more substantive evidence than that before extending belief to it. Especially because the specific claims are inconsistent with the pattern of behavior of both the rebels and of the minority religion sects on the ground in Syria over the past nine months. The rebels are anti-government and are also generally pro-Islamic. But they are not anti-Alawi as such. Most pro-government people in Al-Houla were Sunni. For that reason alone it is unlikely that Rainer Hermann's anonymous sources are correct that the Al-Houla victims "were nearly exclusively families from the Alawi and Shia minorities in Houla which has a more than 90% Sunni population." Another reason why it's much to be doubted is that it comes with no substantive or verified evidence: It's just somebody retelling something from anonymous tellers. I disbelieve everything until I have grounds for believing it. I am much more comfortable with a minimalist knowledge base; I avoiding expanding the base with untrusty info. So I disbelieve Rainer Hermann's report. If substantive verified evidence should come up later to show that Rainer Hermann's report is correct, it wouldn't mean I was wrong about the facts. It would just mean that the probability value I'm currently assigning to the truth of Hermann's report was a big and huge underestimate.
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 10, 2012 2:41:02 PM | 29
Lysander #27, Brothers, Salfists and Wahabis have different ideologies but in the end, they all meet in varying degrees of fundamentalism. The bad feelings are between the Saudis and the brothers because of the brothers' brand of open democracy being pushed all over the ME is making the monarchy nervous. About a month back, the Saudis pledged $2.7 billion in grants to Egypt, which is good but it's not enough.
Posted by: www | Jun 10, 2012 4:06:18 PM | 30
Mazraat al-Qubeir People Tell of Horror and Armed Terrorist Groups’ Crimes against them
Posted on June 8, 2012 by willyloman
Several people from Mazraat al-Qubeir and Marzaf villages in Hama countryside narrated the horror and crimes which were committed by the armed terrorist groups against them, revealing the reality of the horrific crime which took place in their village last night as 9 citizens were killed with cold blood.
In phone calls with the Syrian TV, Abu Hawash, a citizen from Mazraat al-Qubeir village, said that armed terrorists who had RPG launchers and PKC machineguns stormed the area and attacked children and women, calling on the Syrian army and law-enforcement forces to protect them from the terrorists.
Another citizen denounced the bloody satellite channels which are counterfeiting the truth to serve their interests.
Posted by: brian | Jun 10, 2012 10:44:46 PM | 31
and now the iranian MEK joins the USraeli war on syria: this is the new US strategy: use dumb muslims/arabs to fight US wars
Press TV l Two MKO battalions fuelling unrest in Syria: Report
The terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) has reportedly assigned some 400 of its members with stirring up unrest in Syria amid the recent surge of violence and atrocities in the crisis-hit Arab state.
Director of the Habilian Association Seyyed Mohammad Javad Hasheminejad told Fars News Agency on Sunday that MKO terrorists, grouped in two battalions, have been tasked with fomenting chaos and violence in Syria.
The Habilian Association is an Iranian human rights NGO comprising of a group of families that have lost their loved ones in terrorist acts during the early years following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Hasheminejad had on May 28 said that the MKO is preparing to launch a massive terrorist operation in Syria.
“We have conclusive proof and documents showing that the MKO has a strong and significant presence in Syria. The terrorist group has begun carrying out acts of sabotage and terrorism against the Syrian government and nation, and has found major influence among Syrian rebels,” the director of the Habilian Association said in a meeting with Syrian Ambassador to Tehran Hamed Hassan.
Hasheminejad also said Washington is playing a key part in destabilizating Syria, adding that the US and certain Western countries sponsor violence in the Middle Eastern state.
Posted by: brian | Jun 10, 2012 10:51:32 PM | 32
#Syria oppositions insist on abusing #Gaza victims photos to buy Sheeple sympathy. #Turkey sponsored #FSA terrorists pic.twitter.com/6r4AotvT
Posted by: brian | Jun 11, 2012 12:11:57 AM | 34
@ 32 re: MEK sending fighters to Syria to stir up unrest:
Gee, so soon after the US declared the MEK was no longer a terrorist organization? Oh, my.
Posted by: jawbone | Jun 11, 2012 10:19:55 PM | 35