The Solidarity Massacre … Witnesses narrate part of the tragedy and “face search”

“They lead them like cattle, blindfolded and handcuffed. They are only required to run in a prepared pit. For a few seconds, rifle bullets pass through the head and body, spill into the fuel, burn, and their traces disappear. “as if nothing had happened.”

Among them was an elderly man, according to what Al-Hurra saw a seven-minute video recording of the massacre. He stumbled before falling into the filter hole and while shouting “Oh, bye, oh, bye”, they shot him in the head and heart and started laughing.

Six other people, dressed in old clothes, were taken one by one. Some put their feet in the pit and shot them in the head to make sure they would be eliminated, while others pushed and ended their lives having fun, before falling on the corpses of their peers.

On the other hand, there was no expression on the faces of the authors. “They did not beat his eyelid,” as local Syrians say. It seemed as if they had a task to be done as soon as possible, or rather a hole to be closed with corpses “for the eyes of the teacher and the oil suit he was not wearing”.

These are brief details of an investigation published by the British newspaper “The Guardian” on Wednesday, in which it uncovered a war crime committed by a member of the Syrian regime’s intelligence named “Amjad Youssef” eight years ago ( in 2013). , in the Damascus Tadamon neighborhood near the capital.

Although this massacre is not the first of its kind in Syria, carried out by members of the Syrian regime’s forces, the mechanism in which it was discovered opened the wounds of Syrians, residents of the capital and its environs, and the rest of Syria. governments, and those in the diaspora and asylum countries.

The investigation, which was prepared by researchers Ansar Shahoud and Ugur Umit Ongor, who work at the “Center for Holocaust and Genocide” at the University of Amsterdam, documented the video crime, in the name of the perpetrator and his photograph, of him. go far and wide over the years to meet him virtually face to face and retrieve some of the details of “Black Day”, with its language and narratives.

“The massacre is a small detail of a million innocent Syrians,” “A person like Amjad Youssef can cold-bloodedly kill 47 civilians. We can imagine how many Amjad Youssef have been in the Syrian army and intelligence over the past 10 years,” Assad said. and his regime preceded ISIS and all extremists in terms of crime. ” This is how most of the comments of Syrians opposed to the Assad regime have been made on social networks in recent hours.

While many stressed that what happened in solidarity is a simple point in the “sea of ​​great crime of the Syrian regime”, others asked: “How many massacres were carried out in Syria that were not photographed or not photographed? Leaked or made public ?! ”.

“Face Search”

Unlike the horror of what was reported by the “Mass of Solidarity” investigation, there was a scene in which “difficult parts are difficult to describe”, as shown by witness interviews by residents and activists from southern Damascus. and the Tadamon neighborhood of the Al-Hurra website.

Doaa, a Syrian journalist living in Gaziantep, looks back when she reads any news or report about the “solidarity massacre”. It is she who lost a number of her relatives at security checkpoints there, between 2013 and 2014.

She says: “I wonder if they committed the massacre this way or that way?”.

In 2013, Doaa’s uncle was arrested at a security checkpoint in Yarmouk camp linked to Syrian regime militias.

After this time it was announced that he was liquidated on the ground, adding: “We did not receive any reliable news, but after the photos of Caesar came out, we recognized his face.”

The Solidarity massacre is not the first to occur in the neighborhood, but there have been many similar massacres, especially at the beginning of the Syrian revolution and the transition of the peaceful movement to an armed one, with the beginning of the formation of the Free Army Factions and the spread of Assad’s militia in the area.

And Doaa continues: “There are a lot of people. Yesterday, Wednesday, we sat down guessing the date of their arrest, to know if they were in the massacre or not. It is more unfortunate that there are people who want to dispel suspicion with security, so that they know the fate of their children and families ”.

And the execution of the Syrian journalist’s uncle was not the only one exposed to her family.

After the Guardian investigation spread on Wednesday, she recounts: “They sent me his family and told me: ‘He must have died in this massacre. They just want to be safe!’

She explains: “Many people from southern Damascus, including our family and relatives, have been forcibly disappeared in this area – namely the square between the Yarmouk camp checkpoint, Al-Zahira, Al-Tadamon and Daf Al-Shouk – until “now there. there is no news about them. Are they dead or alive?”

“friend again”

The story of Doaa journalist is no different from Catherine Ahmed, a Palestinian-Syrian journalist from the Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus, and currently residing in northern Syria, which is controlled by opposition factions.

At the same time as the Guardian investigation documented the “solidarity massacre”, Catherine’s family lost her uncle’s wife, along with 9 other women, while buying bread and preparing to move to Camp Yarmouk, which it was then under the control of the “Free Syrian Army” and Palestinian opposition factions.

Ahmed told Al-Hurra: “My uncle’s wife had 4 children” and that for 6 months “our efforts did not lead to anything to find out her fate”, even though the family paid large sums to an officer and “shabiha” . within the branches of insurance ”.

“Efforts to find him were continuing, but the answer from all branches of insurance: We have no one by that name.”

And feelings of despair prevailed for months, until “the news came as a shock,” informing the missing woman’s husband that she had been “arrested and sent home that are like centers of temporary detention in Al-Tadamon. liquidated and burned by one of the shabiha as a sign of revenge for his relative ”.

At the time, Catherine’s family was encamped in Camp Yarmouk, and they had no internet or electricity to tell them what had happened.

Today, Ahmad recalls: “When I saw the video of the investigation, we experienced the shock again, like what was happening for the first time. “I tried to imagine what their fate would be, but I did not expect for any moment that it would be so difficult.”

In addition to her uncle’s wife, Katerina also lost her two cousins, who were arrested at a security checkpoint in southern Damascus known as the “Ali al-Wahsh checkpoint.” They were “killed and burned in a manner similar to the recent solidarity massacre. Discovered.”

Ahmed added: “Half of our family was arrested. Some of them were released and others received the news of their martyrdom. We do not know anything about a third.”

‘Hundreds disappeared’

The Al-Tadamon neighborhood is located outside the southern gate of the old city of Damascus, on the outskirts of the Al-Midan neighborhood of Damascus and southwest of the Bab Sharqi neighborhood, which is the heart of Damascus’s vibrant nightlife.

With demonstrations erupting in various neighborhoods of Damascus in the spring of 2011, the neighborhood witnessed peaceful protests, to which the Syrian regime responded by creating “Shabiha groups”, militias that suppressed the protests very violently.

Members of these militias usually wear civilian clothes and they are randomly selected by young people of minority descent, according to the Arab version of the Guardian investigation published by Al-Jumhuriya newspaper.

The investigation stated that the regime formalized shabiha groups by including them in the so-called “National Defense Forces” in the winter of 2012, when it was given the authority to set up checkpoints for arresting and detaining people, without responsibility or oversight. with complete impunity, in addition to their previous powers to use weapons and kill protesters.

Mahmoud Zaghmout, a member of the Action Group for the Palestinians of Syria, spoke to the Al-Hurra website about the loss of many families and hundreds of civilians in the period from late 2012 to late 2013.

The human rights activist adds: “The arrests were made at the Baraka checkpoint, which is controlled by the Shabiha Nasreen who are affiliated with the Syrian regime sect.”

It was also carried out at the “Al-Bashir Mosque Crossing, which is under the control of the People’s Committees, Military Security 227 and the Palestine Branch, in addition to the Fatah Al-Intifada groups, the Free Palestine Movement and the Popular Front. – General Command ”.

Zaghmout explains: “The issue of arbitrary arrest was used as a form of collective punishment against residents of the area because they were out of the control of the Syrian regime. Most of them are innocent women, the elderly and sometimes children.”

The activist notes: “We have Palestinian families who have completely disappeared, like the Amayri family, whose sons were abducted by groups on Nasreen Street in the Al-Tadamon neighborhood on 16-06-2013.”

On the other hand, Matar Ismail, who witnessed many events in southern Damascus, adds that “the Nisreen street shabiha was famous for suppressing demonstrations and then taking up arms early and forming militias that carry out hundreds of massacres of civilians.” .

These armed groups took on a “sectarian character, as they were formed mainly by members of a sect, and among them was the criminal Amjad Al-Youssef, the officer – or class of officers – in region 227, the branch of the Military Security Division.”

During the period in which the “massacre of solidarity” took place, Ismaili was present in the neighborhood, but in areas under the control of opposition groups.

He added for Al-Hurra: “Shabiha Nasreen was taking revenge on the few civilians who were caught behind their homes as a result of poverty and incompetence, through systematic liquidation operations and cold-blooded executions, especially when they lost a military post or during clashes. “One dead person was killed in their ranks.”

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