What really happened – updateMay 31, 2012
RT Interview with Marinella Corregia
UN Commissioner report on Houla?
But they only talk to Syrian opposition — by phone’
The Houla Massacre is to be brought before a rare gathering of the UN Human Rights Council. But what kind of findings will be presented? Anti-war campaigner Marinella Corregia worries, that the HR commissioner talks only to its sources: The opposition.
The meeting, set for Friday, has been called by 21 of the 47 council members. The request was officially submitted by Qatar, Turkey, the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Denmark and the EU.
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous said there are strong suspicions that pro-regime fighters are responsible for some of the 108 in Syria’s Houla massacre, and that heavy weapons were illegally fired by Syrian government forces. But he added “I cannot say we have absolute proof.” Ladsous also told reporters he sees no reason to believe that “third elements” — outside forces — were involved in what was one of the bloodiest single events in Syria’s 15-month-old uprising, though he did not rule this out.
It also appears that entire families were shot in their homes. Local residents have blamed the executions on Shabiha, a paramilitary group that “essentially supports the government forces,” says Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.
UN Human Rights Council ‘own’ sources?
What worries Marinella Corregia, an activist from the “No War Network,” is the sources the UN Commissioner for Human Rights uses to draw their reports, as their opinions do not seem in accord with UN monitors’ prudence. General Robert Mood, who heads the observing mission, has not yet pointed to anyone for the killings.
Marinella Corregia called the spokesman for the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, to get some answers. This is the conversation they had as reported by the peace activist:
Marinella Corregia: Who spoke with the local people you quote? The UN observers?
Rupert Colville: The UN observers are another body.
MC: So which witness sources do you have and how did you speak with them?
RC: Our local network, whom we spoke on the phone. I cannot say more; I have to protect them.
MC: How could they recognize that the killers were Shabbiya? Weren’t their faces covered?
RC: Our local contacts in Syria say they were Shabbiya. Try to be less cynical.
MC: But no doubt from your side? It seems that many of the children were from Alawite pro-government families…
RC: We are asking for an investigation. I don’t say we are certain. We have also been asking for international investigations for the past months in Syria; but it has never been done and that is why we rely on our sources.
MC: So it is not the UN that says that pro-government groups killed the children, it is your sources saying that.
RC: Yes, many people, our sources point the finger at the Shabbiya [militia group].
More questions than answers as Houla investigation continues
But who are these contacts? Corregia says that so far the UN Council on Human Rights used reports made up by their own commission of three envoys, working independently from UN monitors. The commission has never set foot on Syrian soil; their sources, as listed by the anti-war campaigner, appear to be: “the opposition groups [the UN Human Rights Council] spoke to on the phone; the opposition they met in Turkey; and other ‘activists’ they met in Geneva.”
“So the bottom line: no actual witnesses!” points out Marinella Corregia, who is sure the body treats the Houla incident “just the same way.”
Houla reports filed so far stand no criticism, continues the activist, – instead of giving answers, they just raise more questions:
“Who talked to the residents, since the UN Human Rights Council is in Geneva? Are they true residents or the ones like the face-covered lady interviewed by Al Jazeera? The ‘survivor’ in question says she was hiding as her children were being slaughtered – how is it possible that a mother hides at a moment like this?”
“How was it possible that immediately after “Shabbiya” and the “army’s artillery” accomplished the massacre people were not afraid to collect bodies, film them and then send the video to international media?”
“How could survivors identify Shabbiya militia if they say killers were masked? By ‘green military dress’?”
“Why does a video show that some dead children have their hands tied? Did the killers take time to tie the hands of the children before killing them? Or were the hands tied later by those who filmed the massacre in order to call for more blame if possible?”
“Why does the man in the video, while showing the children and screaming ‘Allah Akbar!’, treat them with no respect, like puppets?”
“Why in one of the videos, showing the ‘government’ shelling, are people escaping carrying Syria’s flag, not the opposition’s one?”
“Is it true, as some sources say, that the majority of the people who were killed came from Alawites pro-government families or neutral Sunnis and some others from the opposition? Is it also true that the people were shouting pro-Assad slogans?”
UN Human Rights Council’s rulings mostly adds political weight to the efforts taken by other UN’s bodies, notably the UN Security Council. The Security Council – and prior to it the UN monitors in Syria – is yet to deliberate a final opinion who is responsible for the Houla massacre. But some political leaders seem to know their answer: Syrian diplomats have already been expelled from the US, the UK, France, Germany and other countries across the world.
Investigation of the Houla massacre.
Translation of an article by the ANNA News journalist, Marat Musin:
On the weekend of 25 May 2012, at about 2 PM, large groups of fighters attacked and captured the town of Houla.
Houla is made up of three regions: the villages of Taldou, Kafr Laha and Taldahab, each of which had previously been home for 25-30 thousand people.
The town was attacked from the north-east by groups of bandits and mercenaries, numbering up to 700 people.
These anti-Assad militants came from:
1. Ar-Rastan (the Brigade of al-Farouk from the anti-Assad Free-Syrian-Armyled by the terrorist Abdul Razak Tlass and numbering 250),
2. from the village of Akraba (led by the terrorist Yahya Al-Yousef),
3. and from the village Farlaha, joined by local gangsters from Houla.
The city of Ar-Rastan has long been abandoned by most civilians.
Now Wahhabis from Lebanon dominate the scene, fueled with money and weapons by one of the main orchestrators of international terrorism, Saad Hariri, who heads the anti-Syrian political movement Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal (“Future Movement”).
The road from Ar-Rastan to Houla runs through Bedouin areas that remain mostly out of the control of government troops, so the the militant attacks on Houla came as a complete surprise to the Syrian authorities.
When the rebels seized the lower checkpoint in the center of town, located next to the local police department, they began to sweep up all the families loyal to the authorities in neighboring houses, including the elderly, women and children.
Several families of the Al-Sayed were killed, including 20 young children and the family of the Abdul Razak.
Many of those killed were ‘guilty’ of the fact that they had dared to change from Sunnis to Shiites.
The people were killed with knives and shot at point blank range.
The murdered bodies were presented to the UN and the international community as victims of bombings by the Syrian army, something that was not verified by any marks on their bodies.
The idea that the UN observers, in the Safir Hotel in Homs, had heard artillery fire against Houla at night… I consider nothing short of a bad joke. 50 kilometers lie between Homs and Houla. What kind of tanks or guns has this range?
Yes, there was intensive gunfire in Homs until 3 AM, including heavy weapons.
But, to give an example, on the night of Monday to Tuesday shooting was due to an attempt by law enforcement to regain control of a security corridor along the road to Damascus, Tarik Al-Sham.
After a visual inspection of Houla it is impossible to find traces of any recent bombing and shelling.
During the day, several attacks by gunmen are made on the last remaining soldiers at the Taldou checkpoint.
Militants used heavy weapons and snipers are active from among professional mercenaries.
Note that exactly the same provocation failed at Shumar (Homs) when 49 militants and women and children were killed, just before a visit of Kofi Annan.
The last provocation was immediately exposed as soon as it became known that the bodies of the previously kidnapped belonged to Alawites (loyal to President Assad).
This provocation also contained serious inconsistencies — the names of those killed were from people loyal to the authorities, there were no traces of bombings, etc…
As of today, there are no troops within the city of Houla, but there are regularly heard bursts of automatic fire, nonetheless. Moreover, it is unclear whether the militants are fighting with each other, or whether supporters of Bashar al-Assad are being cleaned out.
Militants opened fire on virtually everyone who tries to get closer to the border town. Before us an UN convoy was fired upon and two armored jeeps of the UN observers were damaged, when they tried to drive up to an army checkpoint in Tal Dow.
In the attack on the convoy a twenty-year-old terrorist was spotted. The fire was directed on the unprotected slopes of the first jeep, the back door of the second armored car was hooked by a fragment. There are wounded among those accompanying. A wounded soldier: “The next day, UN observers came to us at the checkpoint and as soon as they arrived, gunmen opened fire on them. And three of us were injured. One was wounded in the leg, the second in the back, and I was hit in the hip.
When the observers came, they could hear a woman who was standing next to them and cried, the woman stood and pleaded the observers’ help — to protect her from the bandits. When I was wounded, the observers watched as I fell, but none of them tried to help. Our checkpoint no longer exists. There are no civilians any longer in Taldou, only militants remain. Our relationship to the locals was excellent. They are very good to us; they called on the army to enter Taldou. We were attacked by snipers.”
Unfortunately, many of the militants are professional snipers. 100-200 meters from our group TV-crew, militants attacked a BMP that went to replace soldiers at the checkpoint. During this a soldier — draftee got a concussion and slight tangential wound in the head by a sniper bullet. Looking at the pierced Kevlar helmet, it seems he did not even realize that he survived by a miracle.
Snipers kill up to 10 soldiers and policemen at checkpoints each day. It is true, that the daily casualties of law enforcement agencies in Homs were dozens of victims daily. Unfortunately, at 10 AM, six dead soldiers were taken to the morgue. Most were killed by a shot in the head. And the day had just begun…
So, these are these names of those were killed by snipers in the early morning hours of May 29:
1. Sergeant Ibrahim Halyuf
2. Sergeant Salman Ibrahim
3. Policeman Mahmoud Danaver
4. Conscript Ali Daher
5. Sergeant Wisam Haidar
6. the dead soldier’s family name could not be clarified
The bandits even fired an automatic burst on our group of journalists, although it was clear that this is a normal filming crew, consisting of unarmed civilians.
HOW THE ATTACK BEGAN
After Friday prayers at about 2 PM on May 25 a group from the Al Aksh clan started firing on a checkpoint of law enforcement officers from mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Returning fire from a BRDM hit the mosque, and this was the very aim to lead to a bigger provocation.
Then, two groups of militants led by the terrorist Nidal Bakkour and Al-Hassan from the Al Hallak clan, supported by a unit of mercenaries, attacked the upper checkpoint on the eastern outskirts of the city. At 15.30 the upper checkpoint was taken, and all the prisoners executed: a Sunni conscript had his throat cut, while Abdullah Shaui (Bedouin) of Deir-Zor was burned alive.
During the attack on the upper checkpoint in the east the armed men lost 25 people, which were then submitted to the UN observers, together with the 108 dead civilians – “victims of the regime”, allegedly killed by bombing and shelling of the Syrian army. As for the remaining 83 bodies, including 38 young children, they were from the families that were executed by militants, all loyal to the government of Syria.
Interview with a law enforcement officer: “My name is Al Khosam, I am a law enforcement officer. I served in the village of Taldou, the district of Al-Hula, a province of Homs. On Friday, our checkpoint was attacked by a large group of militants. There were thousands.
Question: How do you protect yourself?
Answer: “A simple weapon. We had 20 people, we called support, and when they were coming for us, I was wounded, and regained consciousness in the hospital. The attackers were from Ar-Rastan and Houla. Insurgents control Taldou. They burned houses and killed people by the families, because they were loyal to the government. Raped the women and killed the children.”
Interview with a wounded soldier: “I am Ahmed Mahmoud al Khali. I’m from the city Manbej. Was wounded in Taldou. I come from a support group that came to the aid of our comrades, who were stationed at the checkpoint.
Militants destroyed two infantry fighting vehicles and one BRDM standing at our checkpoint. We moved out to Taldou in a BMP, to pick up our wounded comrades from the checkpoint within the city. We drove them back in the BMP, and I filled in their place.
And after a while the UN observers came. They came to us, we led them to the homes of families who were cut by thugs.
I saw a family of three brothers and their father in the same room. In another room we found dead young children and their mother. And another one- an old man killed in this house. Only five men, women and children. The woman raped and shot in the head, I covered her with a blanket. And the commission had seen them all. They put them in the car and drove away. I do not know where they took them, probably for burial.”
A resident of Taldou on the roof of the police department:
“On Friday afternoon I was home. Hearing the shots, I came out to watch what was happening and saw that the fire came from the north side, towards the location of army checkpoint. As the army did not respond, they started to approach the homes, were subsequently the family was killed. When the army started to return fire, they used the women and children as human shields and continued firing at the checkpoint. When the army began answered, they fled. After that, the army took the surviving women and children and brought them into safety. At this time, Al Jazeera aired pictures and said that the Army committed the massacre at Houla.
In fact, they killed the civilians and children in Houla. The bandits did not allow anyone to carry out their work. They steal everything that they can get their hands on: wheat, flour, oil and gas. Most of the fighters are from the city of Ar Rastan.”
After they captured the city, they carried the bodies of their dead comrades, as well as the bodies of people and the children they killed to the mosque. They carried the bodies in KIA pickups. On May, 25th, at around 8 PM, the corpses were already in the mosque. The next day at 11 o’clock in the morning the UN observers arrived at the mosque.
To exert pressure on public opinion and change the positions of Russia and China, texts and subtitles in Russian and Chinese languages were prepared in advance, reading: “Syria – Homs – the city of Houla. A terrible massacre perpetrated by the armed forces of the Syrian regime against civilians in the town of Houla. Dozens of victims and their number is growing, mainly women and children, brutally killed by indiscriminate bombing of the city.”
Two days later, on May 27, after the residents’ stories and video recordings made showed that the facts do not support the allegation of shelling and bombing, the bandits’ videos had undergone significant changes. At the end of the text appeared this postscript: “And some were killed with knives.”
Marat Musin, Olga Kulygina, Houla, Syria
Original source: http://maramus.livejournal.com/86539.html