Friday, August 03, 2012

230 The Houla massacre. 2.

This blog:

Last Update: 18 august: the 16 August UN Report.  See all below: in green. 
My first blog about this massacre is a list of many articles. 
Here I want to produce just one article by the German paper  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,  FAZ,  from 13 june 2012. 
I consider this the most reliable version of what happened in Houla, because it is more or less compatible with other sources ànd gives the numbers and names of the victims . 
The UN has promised to make a thorough investigation to what happened in Houla, but the man responsable for it says that he only wants to speak to the Syrian opposition. So that will be an unreliable report.
FAZ is not perfect either. 
In a 7 june article the FAZ gave this information about the victim's names: 

Only members from  Alawi and Shii families  were killed, by Sunni killers. One family had recently changed from Sunni to Shii religion, and more than 20  members of this family were killed. 

Also members of the Schomalia family ( Alawi's) were killed, and members of a Sunni member of Parliament, as he was considered a traitor. 
and on 13 june they write: 
 The names of the 84 civilians that were killed are known. They are the father, mother and 49 children ( Probably an extended family: with  grandchildren etc. J.V.) of the Sajjid family and two branches of the Abdarrazzaq family.  People from the town say that these victims were Alawites and muslims that changed from  Sunni to Shii religion.   Also familymembers  of the Assad-loyal member of parliament, Abdalmuti Maslab,  were killed. ( The members who live in Taldou.) 

The houses of the three families are in different parts of Taldou.  All members of each family were killed, with one exception. No neighbor was killed or even wounded.  Familiarity with the village was a necessity for these well planned 'executions." Associated Press quoted the only survivor of the al Sajjid family, the eleven year old Ali, with these words: "The perpetrators had razored bald heads and long beards. " Thats how fanatic Jihadists look, not the Schabiha militia. 
To my knowledge up untill now the Syrian Opposition has never given such detailed information: no names of the killed, no family relations, not political affiliations. 
If you give names , you can be falsified. 
If you give no details but  just a crude accusation like " They killed 100 people" , you don't run the risk of being falsified. 
But the statement of the FAZ can be falsified: If the rebels can find even one Taldou-member of these families to be still alive, they have falsified the FAZ claim.
So far they did not. 


I found a site on the internet which has a lot of information.
here is the site:

Here we see that the rebels have puvlicised a list wih all the names of the dead people ! 
But there is a problem: 
Other rebels published a video in which they have a young boy tell about all the victims in his family, the Al Sayyad family. 
There must be more than 4 Al Sayyad deaths, according to the rebels.
But the list of the rebels has no people people with this name !!

Then there is the 11 year old boy who tells his story on video, and also to The Guardian.  But he messes up. In his accounts he gives different first names for his father, and he messes up with the names for his brothers, uncles and father.  An 11 year old boy from a culture where famiyrelatuins are very important should be able to remember the different names of his relatives. 

Another reason for not believing the story of the rebels is this: Their first account of what happened wads that the people got killed by fire from government tanks.  Then when they showed the dead to the UN people ( did they expect the UN people to be there so quickly? Normally dead people are buried within a day ...) it turned out that they were killed with knives and close range shots.....

Why did they first tell a different tale?  If they did not do it, there was no reason to lie. 

Below you will find some more info from the 'Coser Look' site.

Alls below, after the FAZ article, you will find the integral Closer Look site. 


From that site, some  more info:

Here is a female witness with a long story of what happenend, according to her:  Source: a video by a Russian journalist.


Here is the famous little boy-survior, Ali.  Source: a video by the rebels.

He now tells the story of tanks and government soldiers who were the killers. From Martin Jansen's blog I had the impression that his family was Assad-loyal, and that his family was killed by the rebels.
Now this video was clearly made by the rebels, and they were the ones in power there,  as they showed the UN people around.

The boy clearly had not the liberty to say that it were not the soldiers with the tanks that killed his family. Even if he wanted to say that.

Question: was he speaking the truth? Were the perpetrators indeed coming out of tanks that they put in front of the house?

He says he was hit and shows the proof, but I don't see it ( 2.01 min.)

He says the some  soldiers were bald shaven, but that is more typical for the
He is asked what he wants to sat  about it all ( 3.05) , and answers that the international  community should come and help them.  On demand he says this several times.
The interviewer concludes with saying that it is 25 may at that day, which is the day of the massacre. This is incompatible with the boy stating that the next day, 26 may, he saw his uncle on tv.

For a boy who very recently lost is father mother, brothers and sisters he is quite composed.
There is no trace of fear.
He seems proud to be telling this story.
Then there are 3 possibilities:
1. He is indeed 'friends' of the rebels and eels safe with them, which proofs that it was the government soldiers who did it. ( Or at least that is what he thinks.)
2. This is not the real Ali, but an actor.  Family photographs or genetic tests should be able to solve this, later on.
3. It is the real Ali, but he was out with some friends and then told his family was killed by the army, and treated like a little hero and asked to star in this video.  This takes some preparation, and could not be done on 25 may.  Is that why the video concludes with the explicit date: 25 may 2012...  to 'proof' it was not rehearsed ?

The Guardian has a story and a video.  But the video is recorded  in such a shaky fashion that it gives me the impression that it was done on purpose.  Even someone if full panic should be able to woint the camera at one point for more that 1 second.

SyrienEine Auslöschung

13.06.2012 ·  Das Massaker von Hula ist ein Wendepunkt im syrischen Konflikt. Die westliche Öffentlichkeit beschuldigt, gestützt auf die UN-Beobachter, die syrische Armee. Diese Version kann auf Grundlage von Augenzeugenberichten bezweifelt werden. Demnach wurden die Zivilisten von sunnitischen Aufständischen getötet.
Das Massaker von Hula war ein Wendepunkt im syrischen Drama. Groß war die weltweite Empörung, als am 25. Mai dort 108 Menschen getötet worden waren, unter ihnen 49 Kinder. Rufe nach einer militärischen Intervention wurden laut, um dem Blutvergießen ein Ende zu bereiten, und in Syrien eskaliert seither die Gewalt unaufhaltsam. Nahezu einhellig beschuldigte die Weltmeinung, gestützt auf arabische Nachrichtensender und den Besuch der UN-Beobachter am folgenden Tag, die reguläre syrische Armee und die regimenahen Schabiha-Milizen des Massakers.
Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung hat in der vergangenen Woche diese Version auf der Grundlage von Berichten von Augenzeugen in Frage gestellt. Sie hatte berichtet, dass die getöteten Zivilisten Alawiten und Schiiten waren. Sie wurden in Taldou, einer Stadt der Ebene von Hula, gezielt von bewaffneten Sunniten getötet, während um die Ortschaft um Straßenkontrollen heftige Gefechte zwischen der regulären Armee und Einheiten der Freien Syrischen Armee stattfanden. Diese Darstellung ist von vielen Medien weltweit aufgegriffen und von vielen als unglaubwürdig verworfen worden. Daher stellen sich vier Fragen: Weshalb folgt die Weltmeinung bislang einer anderen Version? Weshalb macht der Kontext des Bürgerkriegs die bezweifelte Version plausibel? Weshalb sind die Zeugen glaubwürdig? Welche weiteren Fakten stützen die Version?
Erstens, weshalb folgt die Weltmeinung einer anderen Version? Unbestritten waren in den ersten Monaten des Konflikts, als die Opposition noch über keine Waffen verfügte und schutzlos war, alle Greueltaten auf das Konto des Regimes gegangen. Die Annahme liegt daher nahe, dass sich dies fortsetze. Ferner genießen die syrischen Staatsmedien keine Glaubwürdigkeit. Seit dem Beginn des Konflikts verwenden sie gebetsmühlenartig gestanzte Formeln wie „bewaffnete Terrorbanden“. So glaubt ihnen niemand mehr, wenn dies einmal wirklich der Fall ist. Zu Leitmedien sind hingegen die arabischen Nachrichtensender Al Dschazira und Al Arabija geworden, die Qatar und Saudi-Arabien gehören, zwei aktiv am Konflikt beteiligten Staaten. Nicht ohne Grund kennt das Deutsche die Redewendung „Im Krieg stirbt die Wahrheit zuerst“.
Zweitens, weshalb macht der Kontext des Bürgerkriegs die bezweifelte Version plausibel? In den letzten Monaten wurden viele Waffen nach Syrien geschmuggelt, die Aufständischen verfügen längst über mittelschwere Waffen. Jeden Tag werden in Syrien mehr als 100 Menschen getötet, dabei halten sich die Toten beider Seiten die Waage. Die Milizen, die unter dem Banner der Freien Syrischen Armee firmieren, kontrollieren die Provinzen Homs und Idlib weitgehend und weiten ihre Herrschaft über weitere Teile des Landes aus. Die zunehmende Gesetzlosigkeit hat zu einer Welle krimineller Entführungen geführt, sie erleichtert zudem das Begleichen offener Rechnungen. Wer in Facebook blättert oder mit Syrern spricht: Jeder kennt aus dem Alltag Geschichten von „konfessionellen Säuberungen“ - von Menschen, die getötet werden, nur weil sie Alawiten oder Sunniten sind.
Die überwiegend von Sunniten bewohnte Ebene von Hula, die zwischen dem sunnitischen Homs und den Bergen der Alawiten liegt, ist von einer langen Geschichte konfessioneller Spannungen belastet. Das Massaker hat sich in Taldou ereignet, einem der größten Orte von Hula. Die Namen der getöteten 84 Zivilisten sind bekannt. Es handelt sich um die Väter, Mütter und 49 Kinder der Familie al Sajjid und zwei Zweige der Familie Abdarrazzaq. Einwohner der Stadt sagen aus, dass die Getöteten Alawiten sind und Muslime, die vom sunnitischen zum schiitischen Islam konvertiert sind. Wenige Kilometer von der Grenze zum Libanon entfernt, machen sie sich damit als Sympathisanten der unter Sunniten verhassten Hizbullah verdächtig. Zudem waren die in Taldou lebenden Verwandten des regimetreuen Parlamentsabgeordneten Abdalmuti Mashlab unter den Ermordeten.
Die Wohnungen der drei Familien befinden sich in verschiedenen Teilen Taldous. Die Mitglieder der Familien wurden gezielt und bis auf eine Ausnahme getötet. Kein Nachbar wurde auch nur verletzt. Ortskenntnisse waren eine Voraussetzung für diese gut geplanten „Hinrichtungen“. Die Nachrichtenagentur AP zitierte den einzigen Überlebenden der Familie al Sajjid, einen elfjährigen Ali, mit den Worten: „Die Täter waren kahlgeschoren und hatten lange Bärte.“ So sehen fanatische Dschihadisten aus, nicht die Milizen der Schabiha. Überlebt habe er, weil er sich tot gestellt und mit dem Blut seiner Mutter beschmiert habe, sagte der Junge.

Sunnitische Rebellen betreiben „Liquidierung“ aller Minderheiten

Bereits am 1. April hatte die Nonne Agnès-Maryam vom Jakobskloster (“Deir Mar Yakub“), das südlich von Homs in der Ortschaft Qara liegt, in einem langen offenen Brief das Klima der Gewalt und der Angst in der Region beschrieben. Sie kommt zum Ergebnis, dass die sunnitischen Rebellen eine schrittweise Liquidierung aller Minderheiten betrieben; sie schildert die Vertreibung von Christen und Alawiten aus ihren Häusern, die von den Rebellen besetzt werden, und die Vergewaltigung junger Mädchen, die den Rebellen als „Kriegsbeute“ übergeben werden; sie war Augenzeugin, als Rebellen in der Straße Wadi Sajjeh erst einen Händler, der sein Geschäft zu schließen sich geweigert hatte, durch eine Autobombe töteten und dann vor einer Kamera von Al Dschazira sagten, das Regime habe die Tat begangen. Schließlich schildert sie, wie sunnitische Rebellen im Stadtteil Khalidijah von Homs alawitische und christliche Geiseln in ein Haus gesperrt und dieses in die Luft gesprengt hätten, um anschließend zu erklären, dies sei eine Greueltat des Regimes gewesen.
Weshalb haben in diesem Kontext die syrischen Augenzeugen für glaubwürdig zu gelten? Weil sie keiner Konfliktpartei angehören, sondern zwischen den Fronten stehen und kein anderes Interesse haben, als eine weitere Eskalation der Gewalt vielleicht doch noch aufzuhalten. Aus ihrem Kreis sind bereits mehrere Personen getötet worden. Niemand will daher seine Identität preisgeben. Gewissheit, dass sich alle Details exakt wie beschrieben zugetragen haben, kann es jedoch in einer Zeit nicht geben, in der eine unabhängige Überprüfung aller Fakten an Ort und Stelle nicht möglich ist. Auch wenn sich das Massaker von Hula in der hier beschriebenen Version ereignet hat, lassen sich daraus keine Schlüsse für andere Greueltaten ziehen. Wie zuvor im Kosovo muss nach diesem Krieg jedes Massaker einzeln untersucht werden.
Welche weiteren Fakten stützen diese Version? Die F.A.Z. war nicht die erste, die über eine neue Version des Massakers von Hula berichtet hat. Andere Berichte hatten sich nur nicht gegen die großen Leitmedien behaupten können. Der russische Journalist Marat Musin, der für die kleine Nachrichtenagentur Anna arbeitet, hatte sich am 25. und 26. Mai in Hula aufgehalten, war teilweise Augenzeuge geworden und hat die Aussagen anderer Augenzeugen veröffentlicht. Zudem hat der in Damaskus lebende niederländische Arabist und freie Journalist Martin Janssen nach dem Massaker Kontakt zum Jakobskloster in Qara aufgenommen, das in der Vergangenheit viele Opfer des Konflikts aufgenommen hat und dessen Nonnen aufopfernd humanitäre Arbeit leisten.

Rebellen schilderten UN-Beobachtern ihre Version des Massakers

Die Nonnen schilderten ihm, wie an jenem 25. Mai mehr als 700 bewaffnete Rebellen, aus Rastan kommend, vor Taldou eine Straßenkontrolle der Armee überrannt haben, wie diese nach dem Massaker die Leichen der getöteten Soldaten und Zivilisten vor der Moschee stapelten und wie sie am folgenden Tag vor den Kameras rebellenfreundlicher Sender den UN-Beobachtern ihre Version von dem angeblichen Massaker der syrischen Armee erzählten. UN-Generalsekretär Ban Ki-moon teilte am 26. Mai dem UN-Sicherheitsrat mit, die genauen Umstände seien ungeklärt. Die UN könnten aber bestätigen, „dass es Artillerie- und Granatfeuer gegeben hat. Es gab außerdem andere Formen der Gewalt, darunter Schüsse aus nächster Nähe und ernsthafte Misshandlungen“.
Folgender Tathergang lässt sich rekonstruieren: Nach dem Freitagsgebet am 25. Mai griffen mehr als 700 Bewaffnete unter Führung von Abdurrazzaq Tlass und Yahya Yusuf in drei Gruppen, die aus Rastan, Kafr Laha und Akraba kamen, drei Straßenkontrollen der Armee um Taldou an. Die zahlenmäßig überlegenen Rebellen und die (meist ebenfalls sunnitischen) Soldaten lieferten sich blutige Gefechte, bei denen zwei Dutzend Soldaten, überwiegend Wehrpflichtige, getötet wurden. Während und nach den Gefechten löschten Rebellen, von Einwohnern aus Taldou unterstützt, die Familien Sajjid und Abdarrazzaq aus. Diese hatten sich geweigert, sich der Opposition anzuschließen.
Quelle: F.A.Z.


Houla: Victims.
The only complete victims list known to us so far originates with the Damascus Center for Human rights Studies which is an opposition site according to the bloggers who posted it.[1]The DCHRS is a member of the the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH/IFHR)

According to opposition sources, the individuals and families targeted for mass-killing on May 25/26 were selected more or less at random, for supposedly supporting the rebellion, and in some views simply for being Sunni Muslims.
Rainer Hermann famously inserted a contrasting allegation into the mix, citing unexplained "opposition activists" who gathered witness accounts. “According to the witness accounts … 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 [Abdel Razaq], which had in recent years converted from Sunni to Shia faith 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.” Syrian government sources initially declined to specify religion, thus failing to either support or confirm these details accompanying a story otherwise like their own. Instead, their statements claimed the families were targeted due to remaining loyal to the Syrian government and rejecting the armed rebellion, irrespective of any religious motives.

The Al-Sayed Family
At least two households of the Al-Sayed family were targeted, and perhaps three. This family was of Sunni faith, according to all sources. Their political affiliations, are, however in dispute.
Different Names
Two male heads of households are named by government sources. One is Meshleb al-Sayed, a Secretary of the People’s Assembly[2] alternately Abdalmuti Mashlab[3]. The other is Muawiya al-Sayed, a police officer[2] or alternately "a senior official" given as Mouawyya al-Sayyed. (v) In full, SANA reported on June 2 that many of "the victims belong to the family of al-Sayed, with Muawiya al-Sayed being a police officer who didn't defect and was always in danger, along with two other al-Sayed households who are related to Meshleb al-Sayed who recently became Secretary of the People's Assembly."[2] A local from Taldou explained in a video interview that "of Al-Sayed family, they killed the family of the brother of Abdullah Al-Mashlab, the 3rd person in the Syrian parliament. He was elected on May 24th, and the next day they killed his wife and three kids and his brother and his big family as well."[4]

In contrast, a boy survivor 
Ali Al-Sayed gives his killed father as Ali Alsayed[5] and to the Guardian as either Aref or Shawki: "They said they wanted Aref and Shawki, my father and my brother."[6] To the Guardian he says the soldiers "asked about my uncle, Abu Haidar. They also knew his name." There he cites five deaths in his household; "they shot my father and uncle. And then they found Aref, my oldest brother, near the door. They shot him dead too."[6] In the video interview, he names a brother Shaoqi (Shawki), his father Ali, and two uncles: Oqba, and Aref, unclear if one or both were arrested or killed.[5] An alleged witness for an attack by opposition forces was quoted by the Syrian Arab News Agency supporting the existence of an "Okba" of that family, killed. "the group led by one Haitham al-Housa hated al-Sayed family ... this group didn't even fire at the detachment but rather at the house where Okba al-Sayed, his brother, his sister-in-law and their children were, killing them." [2]

Despite the amazing confusion over his immediate family and their names, Ali's two accounts consistently suggest another - unnamed - uncle was complicit in the killings. To the Guardian, he reported running to his uncle's house for safety. The soldiers who had attacked his home then arrived and, unseen, he overheard them "asking his uncle if he knew who lived in the house that they just rampaged through."
[6] In the video, he says his uncle(s) and brother were taken away, rather than killed there. He said "the next day I saw them dead on the government TV channel. My uncle came on saying that armed gangs killed his children.”[5]) The name of this uncle is unspecified in both cases, but the speaker of the Peoples' Assembly is likely to be featured on state TV following the murder of his family. It therefore seems possible Ali is here implicating Mashlab in the massacre of his own family.

The one known witness list (from the Damascus Center for Human Rights Study), comprehended with Google translate, doesn't clearly contain any names Al-Sayed (
السيد). There is a similar السويعي (Alsoiei) for entries 22-25, with no matching first names. The family name Arif or Aref (عارف), included with a "Mr." does appear. This is the first name of Ali's father/uncle/brother, and appears for entries 30, 31, 48, and 93. Family matches include Nader (#30) and Rasha (#48), a younger brother and sister cited by Ali. (the other two Arifs given as dying are Mohammed and Adel) [1] With two or three households attacked, there should be more than four members of this family killed. Just Mashlab's nuclear family loss is reported this size: a wife and three children, no mention of survivors and no room for uncles. The name Adel is of further interest. A brother Aden, aged 8, was also reportedkilled in Ali's account to the AP, May 30 (NYP) Further, anti-government activist Maysara al-Hilawi described to Reuters a single survivor of the Al-Sayed family: "A baby, Ali Adel al-Sayyed, miraculously survived." (KO)
The People’s Assembly Speaker?
On May 7, 2012, Syrians voted in nationwide elections for the Peoples' Assembly, their parliament. (good citation needed) It's reported the anti-government activists urged people to boycott the elections, and the Syrian NAtional Congress refused to run. (citation needed). Those elected were sworn in on May 24. China news reported on the ceremony and day's activity:
"The newly-elected Syrian parliament has held its first session in order to elect a speaker and members of the parliament’s office. This comes as the country is passing through a delicate phase amid 15 months of continuing crisis." (C)
It's said by a local in Taldou, where Al-Mashlab/Sayed's family lived, that Al-Mashlab/Sayed "was elected on May 24th, and the next day they killed his wife and three kids and his brother and his big family as well."[4] Having lots of work to do, the new speaker would remain in Damascus, with his family at home in Taldou, where they were apparently massacred late on first full day on the job.
An Anti-Government Family?
There is some acknowledgment of this parliament connection, although vague, from the other side. American NPR reported:
"The Syrian government says the massacre was the work of hundreds of foreign-born terrorists stationed in a nearby town. It says these militants were out to punish one family that had a relative in the Syrian parliament, but Maryam Sayid, who survived the massacre of that family by running away, said the government's version is simply untrue.
MARYAM SAYID: Why would we flee and hide with anti-government rebels, she says, if we were with the government? She describes the killers as Alawite thugs wearing all black and chanting sectarian slogans. … This was a sectarian killing, Maryam says. They killed us because we are Sunni."[7]

local refs

The Abdel Razaq Family
§  Around 60 of the victims belonged to this family, including most of the children.
§  The DCRHS victim list is dominated by names containing Abdul Razaq, a total of 60 entries out of 107. These include one of the soldiers (#107), likely unrelated. The rest are clustered into four groupings (entries 1-21, 35-45, 50-68, 82-89) [1]
§  Human Rights Watch reported that "local activists" handed them "a list of 62 dead members from the Abdel Razzak family." HRW also spoke to three survivors of this family: a 10-year-old boy, his mother, and an elderly woman. [8]
§  HRW was told by "survivors" that the family "owns the land and farms next to the national water company and the water dam of Taldou, and lives in eight or nine houses next to each other, two families to a house." [8]
§  Accounts vary as to the family's religion - Sunni, or Sunni recently converted to Shi'ism. See Abdel Razaq family: Sunni or Shi'ite?
§  Like the Al-Sayed family, they were clearly targeted for some reason, and not hit randomly. Testimony by Akrama Bakour, Free Syrian Army, breaks up the whole clan victims into sub-families killed at three distinct locations.[9]
§  "They then entered the house of Samir Abdul Razaq. He was killed with his children - Sawsan, Houda, Jouzila and Nada. And his daughter-in-law Halloum El Khlaf, six months pregnant, with her son Ala'a Abdul Razaq, and Samir's sister-in-law Khaloud El Khalaf, and her daughter, Rahaf Al Hussein - but her daughter Zahra Al Hussein was shot twice but survived.
§  "Samir's wife was hit with the back of the rifles but she fainted and is now still alive. Also among the victims in this house were four kids whose father is Fadi al-Kurdi.
§  "The next house they entered was the house of Qutayba Abdul Razaq, he survived and his one-year-old daughter was injured. He lost his wife and five of his children.
§  "All of those I'm counting died by gunshots, direct fire. They were gathered in one room and shot. There was one kid however whose head was skinned with a knife. The knife was found among the bodies and we have its picture.
§  "The third house belongs to Nidal Abdul Razaq, his wife and four of his children were killed, and he and one of his children are still alive.
§  "Adel Abdul Razaq - his whole family, a wife and six children.
§  "Mustafa Abdul Razaq was killed with his four daughters, his wife and his daughter in law.
§  "Ayman Abdul Razaq - all of his six children were killed as was his wife, one of the children was disabled.
§  "Abdul Khalek Abdul Razaq - his wife and daughter survived gun shots but he lost six other children and his daughter-in-law and her three children.
§  "Abdul Rahman Abdul Razaq lost his wife, his five daughters and 11 grandchildren as well as his six daughters-in-law and four of his sons. He still has two who are still alive; one is called Firas and the other Rateb. This massacre was of 27 people in the same room.
§  "Also killed in the massacre were Yaacoub Hussein Abdul Razaq, Mohammad Shafiq Abdul Razaq, Mohammad Abbara and his daughter Amina and her family of seven."
The Shomaliya family
"The Alawi family Shomaliya" cited by Hermann have not been explained by opposition sources or represented by alleged survivors to our knowledge. No such name seems to appear on the DCHRS list. Neither has it, to our knowledge, been supported by Syrian government statements or eyewitnesses, aside from the following possible reference from an eyewitness sheltered in a monastery: Around 10 PM, he said, "armed gangs moved towards the village of Tal Daw. They invested the southern district and massacred Alawite families, men, women and children, then set fire after transporting the corpses." (Vox Clamantis, May 26 - in original French: - an English translation:
Several members of the Al-Turki family were reportedly among the dead. Some names consistent with this appear on the DCHRS victims list. According to those who describe an attack by rebel forces, a number of defending soldiers at the assaulted check-points were killed. The DCHRS list does contain ten army victims, one given as a defector (lieutenant dissident).
1.       ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 DCHRS victims list in Arabic, Excel-File, auto-translated by Google (PDF)
3.        Rainer Hermann, "Eine Auslöschung", FAZ, published June 13,2012, translation from German here
4.       ↑ 4.0 4.1 Interviewed by Marat Musin of ANNA-News. Youtube video: "Al Hula witness" (9:34) Published on May 31, 2012 by sabinachiaburu. Subtitles after transcript in original Russian, translated from Russian to German, translated from German to English
5.       ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Video-Interview with Ali Al-Sayed published 28 May, with English subtitles here and here, Al Jazeera English Report here
6.       ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Houla massacre survivor tells how his family were slaughtered, Martin Chulov for The Guardian, published May 28,2012
7.        NPR audio feature by Kelly McEvers, Beirut "Sectarian Syrian Group Blamed In Houla Massacre", published June 5, 2012
8.       ↑ 8.0 8.1 "Syria: UN Inquiry Should Investigate Houla Killings" Human Rights Watch, May 27, 2012.
9.        Testimonies obtained by telephone interviews by several branches of the BBC, published May 28


Update, 18 august 2012. 

The UN latest report on Syria, which was often called: the definite Houla Report. 

I found it on the website of the Guardian: The Report

My first conclusion: 
In the Summary we read:
"The Commission found that Government forces and Shabbiha members were responsible for the killings in Al-Houla. "

Clear language.

Let's look at the report for the details. 

The Report has this structure: 
1. Introduction
2. Context.
3. Findings. ( pag. 10-21)

Pages 10 and 11 that are: "Special inquiery into Al-Houla."

4. Responsability. ( pag. 21.) 
5. Conclusions and Recommendations. ( pag 23.)

Plus 12 Annexes with pages 26 to 102. 
Of which:
Annex 4: Special Inquiry into Houla. ( pages 63 to 69)


I will summarize in my own words  the Findings on Houla. 
( Page 10 and 11= Paragraphs 41 to 50) 

On 27 june the UN concluded ( preliminary) that the Government was responsable for the deaths, as a result of shelling. Also the Government did not investigate well enough. The Commission was unable to determine the identity of the perpetrators. Nevertheless, it is considered that forces loyal to the Governement were likely to have been responsable for the killing. 

42. We could not enter the country, and the Government did not issue a definite report. 

43. We made 8 interviews, of which 2 with survivors. We saw video's and satellite images and reviewed analyses from other sources. 

44. In total 47 interviews were considered. These were consistent in their depiction of the events and all described government forces as perpetrators ( and Shabiba) . 
Except from 2 witnesses who spoke in a government report, this Government Report was not confirmed by any witnesses. 
We judged the 2 witnesses in the Govt. report unreliable: inconsistencies. 
'Our 'witnesses were consistent, even if they were taken over a longer period of time. 

45. We found that the 3 actors all could have had acces tot het families that were killed: the rebels, the government and the Shabbiha. 
The victims lived in seven houses of the Abdul Razzak family and two houses of the Al Sayed homes. 
A checkpoint near the Al Sayed home was in control of government forces all the day. 
The front line between rebels and Govt. was north of this checkpoint. Therefore we consider it not so likely that the Al Sayed house was accessed by rebels. 

46. The Abdul Rassak site, where 60 people were killed, must have been visisted by a lot of killers, and therefore we think this cannot be done by rebels, as they would have been seen by Govt, forces.  

47. The hospital was occupied by the government, and none of the victims sought help in the hospital. All the victims sought help from the rebels. 
The Govt. report depicted the loyalties of the Al-Sayed family as pro-Govt. , but surviving family members fled to opposition controlled areas of Taldou. 

48. The govt. did not investigate Houla well enough. 

49. We conbsider the deeds a war crime, and we have reasonable grounds to believe that the perpetrators were Govt. forces and Shabbiha. 

50. We think it is a part of a series of crimes. against humanity. 

--------- so far the "Findings on Houla". --------------

In the "Annex on Houla" we find almost the same information. 

Some comments by Jan Verheul: 

I remember an article by Martin ... in which he wrote that the chief of this investigation ( mr  C.... ) planned only to interview Sunni people by telephone. 

These are the witnesses that is spoken about in this report, I suppose. 

The fact that their story is consistent suprises me, because the young boy who is portayed as the sole survivor of the attack tells his story two times ( one time to the rebels, on video, and one time to the Guardian.) In these two stories he mixes up all the names, and even has different names for his own father, if I remember it well!! 

About the alliances of these families: the report does confirm that one family that was killed was from a policeman for the government. These rebels must have hated him. 

The fact that survivors fled to the rebels could be explained by the fact that they were among the rebels and still alive. Best not to try to fly away, as that would be extra risk. It was the rebels who 'found' the killed people, and who came with the story that they were killed by tank-shelling. 
When the UN people came to Houla thata same day, they saw the people were killed from close range. Then the rebels changed their story for the world. 

My conclusion: 

( A little bit hasty conclusion, I don't want to spend too much time on it.) 

- the witnesses were from the rebels only. This is not reliable. Always ask both sides of a conflict for their information. 

- The witnesses were probably not consistent.  Not in what I read and saw from them.  So it is very surprising that speaking to the UN they all came  with one consistent version of what happened. 

- The loyalties of the killed families are disputed. But not the fact that one man was a policeman for Assad. Why would his family be killed by Govt. forces? There must be thousands of Sunni familes in Houla  that were much more anti-government than this policeman's family.  Much 'better targets'for the govt. forces. 
But for the rebels this policeman may have been very much hated by the rebels ( who were local criminals in many cases, possibly with scores to settle).  The hatred may have motivated the destruction of his whole family.  

- Nobody fled to the Hospital, but they fled to the rebels. Possible, but the people were maybe caught in rebel territory, and as they were not killed , they knew they would not be killed thereafter, except if they would fly to the ennemy and fail  in this flight.
Or were they captured and served as witnesses?  
We don't know. 


  1. Hey! One of the Closer Look on Syria people here - I saw this, thought you should have an update. The part about the Al-Sayeds not being listed was a goof up, corrected long ago. Sayed transltes Mr., so entries like Mr. Rasha, Mr. Rajab Sober, are actually (resp.) a toddler girl and one of the wives killed. Improved list here:

    News otherwise if the topic still interests you:
    A new report: The Battle For The Houla Massacre: The Video Evidence Explained. That, a debate space, other findings new and old re: the Houla Massacre:
    Part of a broader agitation/revision project for this one incident. Laser focus, burn one spot at least clear through to the truth.

    You're invited.

  2. Oh, and there's a newer list by family, with graphic photos, names attached. See:

    And another list correlating that, the correlated list, and VDC records. Still formatting, but it seems 9 rebel fighters, app. 112 civilians, including 62-63 children. About 85-90 or more are from the Abdulrazaq families or families intermarried to them. Still nothing conclusive on whether or not they converted, except that rebel apparently targeted them for some reason and that's a good one that's on record.