Tuesday, March 6, 2012


"Syrian refugees walk outside their camp, just at the border with Syria, in Reyhanli, Turkey, Sunday, March 4, 2012. Some 10,000 Syrian refugees have trickled into neighboring Turkey over the past year fleeing fighting in Syria." (AP Photo/Gaia Anderson)
Syria Eyewitness: Homs Refugees Tell of "Slaughter"
By Paul Wood
BBC Online, March 5, 2012
"The car headlights picked out a ragged group of men, women and children walking up the road towards us. Night had just fallen. There was a bitterly cold wind. They had endured a month of bombardment in Baba Amr then fled, panicking, before ground troops arrived. 'We're homeless,' a woman shouted. 'Why? Because we asked for freedom?' She said they had been walking for three days. Their journey was so long because they walked across fields and through orchards to avoid the army checkpoints. A terrible fear has seized people here about what the government forces are doing now that they are back in control. In a nearby house we sat with six women and their 17 children. They had arrived that day. There were no men. 'We were walking out altogether until we reached the checkpoint,' said one of the women, Um Abdo. 'Then they separated us from the men. They put hoods on their heads and took them away.' Where do you think they are now, I asked. The women replied all at once: 'They will be slaughtered.' We met the Ibrahim family by chance while filming an aid delivery of cooking oil. They told us that on Friday, in the Jobar district of Homs, they had witnessed a massacre. Ahmed Ibrahim told me that 36 men and boys were taken away. Among them were four members of his own family including his 12-year-old son, Hozaifa. All were dead now, he said.
He said he had seen everything, lying flat behind some trees. He told me: 'There is a major checkpoint near our house. Reinforcements arrived there. They brought Shabiha (the 'ghosts' or paramilitaries). They began arresting all the men in the area so I crouched down in the orchards just beside my house. They started beating them up. Then they moved them into a street next to a school. They killed them all. I saw it. I was 50 to 100 metres away. Their hands were tied behind their backs. A soldier held each one still on the ground with his boot; another soldier came to cut their throats. I could hear their screams.' He said the victims included his son, two brothers and a nephew. He thought he could count 36 bodies in the street -- the number of men and boys who had been detained. 'The army took the bodies. They are afraid that ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] would come in so they destroyed the evidence.' His wife was inside the house when the soldiers came. She said: 'They knocked on the door and said if we didn't open up they would shoot through the walls. So we let them in and they took all males aged 12 and older. I went out to ask about my son but they shot at me. After they had killed them, they came back and searched us for mobile phones [looking for any video]. They threatened us. They said: 'We can come back at any time.' I felt that we were all going to die. Other families came to ask for their men and I told them that they had been slaughtered. I wish I had never gone out to witness that scene. We fled as fast as we could, leaving everything behind.' Their niece, 16-year-old Noor, was in another house. Her father -- one of Ahmed Ibrahim's brothers -- was killed. She said: 'My father went to open the door. I told him: "Don't. Run away." He said "Why? I haven't done anything wrong." He opened the door. They took him. I was clinging on to him but they took him anyway. As well as my father, they took my uncle, my cousin and my brother. I went outside and saw them pushing them to the ground. Then they killed them. I heard my father shout "God is great" as he died. The others, too. The soldiers shoved us back inside with their guns.' We do not know, yet, the truth of such allegations. But one former soldier involved in the Baba Amr operation told us that prisoners were routinely murdered. He said he had witnessed one summary execution. [...]"

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