HRW: ISIL, Syria Terrorists Commit Murders against Humanity in Lattakia
A Human Rights Watch report published Wednesday exposed sectarian massacres of hundreds of civilians by US-backed opposition forces during an offensive in early August, in the majority-Alawite region around the coastal city of Lattakia.
Based on extensive photographic evidence and interviews with survivors, HRW found that at least 190 Alawite civilians were butchered and 200 taken hostage by opposition forces. The dead included at least 57 women, 18 children, and 14 elderly men.
HRW acting Middle East Director Joe Stork said the massacres were "not the actions of rogue fighters... This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population of these Alawite villages."
These events are an indictment of Washington and its European allies as well as the corporate media, all of which have backed al-Qaeda-linked opposition militias in Syria.
Two weeks after the Lattakia killings, Washington began a campaign for war with Syria, based on lies about a chemical attack in Ghouta-pulling back from the brink of war only due to mass opposition from American and European workers.
Alawite civilians who fell under opposition control were brutally massacred. HRW cites medical reports: "Cause of death in several of [the bodies] was multiple gunshot wounds all over the bodies, in addition to stab wounds made with a sharp instrument, given the decapitation observed in most bodies."
Opposition officials contacted HRW early on in the offensive, when most of the killings apparently took place. The report cites one "opposition activist" who, on August 5, boasted to HRW: "We caught 150 women and 40 children, and killed all the men."
The report details dozens of cases where defenseless civilians were slaughtered. In the village of Barouda, opposition fighters killed two civilians who were unable to escape: Safwan Hassan Shebli, a paralyzed Syrian army veteran, and his mother Shamieh Ali Darwish, who could only walk on crutches.
In the village of Sleibeh al-Hamboushieh, they murdered a blind 80-year-old woman, Nassiba Salem Sleim, and several of her relatives.
Other civilians were killed as they tried to escape the opposition militias. Ghazi Ibrahim Badour, who was fleeing with his wife and 10 children, said: "They cut off the road, so we tried to escape through the trees, but they were shooting at us, and two of my daughters died. My wife and another daughter were hurt. My daughter Sefah Badour, who has a masters in Arabic literature, and my daughter Sara, who has a degree in philosophy, were killed."
According to HRW, the opposition fighters who carried out the massacres were largely drawn from five al Qaeda-linked militias: the Al Nusra Front, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL], Ahrar al-Sham, Suqour al-Izz, and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar.
The first two are the best-known al-Qaeda-linked opposition militias in Syria. Jaish al-Muhajireen is an ISIL-linked group of foreign fighters from countries including Chechnya, Turkey, Tajikistan, Pakistan, France, Egypt and Morocco.
The HRW report also explained how the operation was planned and financed by moneymen based in various Persian Gulf sheikhdoms, mainly Kuwait, starting in April. They include Sheikh Hajjej al-Ajami and Shafi al-Ajami in Kuwait, as well as the preacher Sheikh Adnan al-Arour, who reportedly donated $140,000 and, later, $4.8 million.
The atrocities near Lattakia also expose the treacherous role of the corporate media, which are deeply implicated by their promotion of the Syrian opposition. They have lied through their teeth, praising a collection of cutthroats and gangsters mobilized as part of an imperialist war against Syria, and who are capable of the bloodiest killings, as fighters for democracy.
Source: HRW, Edited by website team