Report: Rebels Responsible for Houla Massacre

By John Rosenthal - June 9, 2012.

It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the “tipping point” in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people, predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western media. Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries announced that they were expelling Syria’s ambassadors in protest.

But according to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad. For its account of the massacre, the report cites opponents of Assad, who, however, declined to have their names appear in print out of fear of reprisals from armed opposition groups.

According to the article’s sources, the massacre occurred after rebel forces attacked three army-controlled roadblocks outside of Houla. The roadblocks had been set up to protect nearby Alawi majority villages from attacks by Sunni militias. The rebel attacks provoked a call for reinforcements by the besieged army units. Syrian army and rebel forces are reported to have engaged in battle for some 90 minutes, during which time “dozens of soldiers and rebels” were killed.

“According to eyewitness accounts,” the FAZ report continues,
the massacre occurred during this time. Those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. Over 90% of Houla’s population are Sunnis. Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.
The FAZ report echoes eyewitness accounts collected from refugees from the Houla region by members of the Monastery of St. James in Qara, Syria. According to monastery sources cited by the Dutch Middle East expert Martin Janssen, (presented below) armed rebels murdered “entire Alawi families” in the village of Taldo in the Houla region.

Already at the beginning of April, Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix of the St. James Monastery warned of rebel atrocities’ being repackaged in both Arab and Western media accounts as regime atrocities. She cited the case of a massacre in the Khalidiya neighborhood in Homs. According to an account published in French on the monastery’s website, rebels gathered Christian and Alawi hostages in a building in Khalidiya and blew up the building with dynamite. They then attributed the crime to the regular Syrian army. “Even though this act has been attributed to regular army forces . . . the evidence and testimony are irrefutable: It was an operation undertaken by armed groups affiliated with the opposition,” Mother Agnès-Mariam wrote.

— John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at or on Facebook.


Martin Jansen's above mentioned article is translated by "Google Translate" and presented below:

The horrors of Houla

Several days after the horrific massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, eleven years old Ali al-Sayed has suddenly become a celebrity in the Arab media. When armed men had invaded his family's house in Houla and  killed all members of his family in cold blood, little Ali was also on the ground. The blood of his dead mother, who lay beside him, stained his clothes red. This saved him his life because the killers thought that Ali was dead too. A chilling picture.

Strikingly, Ali describes the killers of his family as "men with shaved heads and long beards." This is certainly not a description that applies to soldiers of the Syrian army but rather seems to point in the direction of violent jihadists as their images we saw in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, May 25 After the massacre in Houla headlines was a cry of horror went through the world. Immediately, the Syrian regime held responsible although General Robert Mood, the head of the UN Commission in Syria, expressly did not. Since Houla is more openly talked about military intervention in Syria who have unpredictable consequences. The situation is extremely explosive as an urgent need with a cool head a few things on a straight.


One of these days a report by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations see the light on the massacre in Houla.This Council has a special committee of three persons formed to review what happened on that bloody May 25 in Houla exactly took place. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the Council, said that this report Houla will be based on three sources: telephone conversations with opposition groups in Syria and meetings with members of the Syrian opposition in both Turkey and Geneva. The question seems justified whether this one-sidedness of sources not already in advance the outcome of the research suggests. Rupert Colville himself seems to confirm this because he already said that "all our sources responsible for the massacre at the Shabihha explain."

The Shabihha his armed militia according to the Syrian opposition Alawitische consist mainly of young people who are paid by the Syrian regime. However, it appears that among the 108 victims in Houla Alawitische quite a few women and children was. Raising questions about the assumption that the Shabihha would have been responsible for the massacre.

The story surrounding the circumstances of this massacre took place, changed indeed. Initially it was reported that the Syrian army for twelve hours with tanks shelled the village of Houla would have an anti-regime demonstration to disperse.During this bombardment were the 108 victims in Houla cases. Later it became clear that almost all the victims had been killed by a bullet or stab wounds, which was shot in the head at close. The Free Syrian Army began on Arab satellites to spread the message that "the murderous Shabihha from house to house were drawn." It is remarkable how little attention the international community to these two totally contradictory statements.


The past few days have three different sources based on testimony brought out more information about the drama in Houla that should be placed against the background of total anarchy, especially in the Homs-Hama region seems to dominate. Houla is located between Hama and the Lebanese border.

Faith, a Catholic organization, said on 30 May that large groups of Syrian Alawites and Christians flights to Lebanon to escape the violence of armed gangs that are specifically directed against them. Christians flee because these armed gangs of Christians as "protected by the regime of Bashar al-Assad."

They are victims of an "infinite series of abductions and torture because they refused to join the revolutionaries." Fides reports that the stream of Christian refugees from Syria after the massacre in Houla is constantly swollen because Christians themselves become targets of revenge.

The second source relates to the monastery in Qara that also in the Homs-Hama region lies. At my express request, the monastery sent me all the information that they had managed to collect information on the events in Houla. The monastery writes "that our coverage is based on stories of local witnesses and aims to protect the civilian population by the regime left behind and is at the mercy of terrorist atrocities."

Many have sought protection since May 25, near the monastery. These eyewitnesses, from villages near Houla, correspond in their statement that the Syrian army on May 25 young members was completely absent in the whole region.Rastan and Saan are two places that are fully under the control of the Free Syrian Army. Armed rebels, whose number is estimated at between 700 and 800 people, on Thursday, May 24 where they are drawn towards Hama al-Watani hospital attacked and killed the guards. Eyewitnesses explained "They then invaded the hospital where the rebels have killed all present and after they had dragged the bodies outside the hospital, they set on fire. On video you can see that the rebels had the corpses wrapped in sheets that the Arabic inscription "Health Ministry" had ".

In Tal Daw, a village near Houla, these armed insurgents then Alawitische entire families murdered. All these bodies were then collected in Houla for the mosque. The report of the monastery in Qara then gives a description of the area around the site Kusayr "in an uproar by a total lack of security. This whole area is undergoing a complete civil war between Shiite and Sunni villages ".


The third source relates to the eyewitness account of the two Russian journalists Marat Musin and Olga Kulygina who both with a TV crew on 25 May were present in Houla. They describe how the entire region is dominated by armed groups which they called "Wahhabis" call. Both journalists saw that armed rebels Rastan on 25 May around 14:00 at various locations in Houla attacked police posts. Then "drove the rebel groups, loyal to the authorities, together in some houses where they were all killed. One of these families was the family of Adult Touch ". Adult Tap is a politician who recently was elected to parliament in the Syrian. The two Russian journalists describe how they saw all the corpses were then shown to the Commission of the United Nations under the claim that they were victims of bombing of the Syrian army.

Marat Musin and Olga Kulygina have detailed discussions with local residents and also mention the names of Syrian officials and policemen who were murdered by the rebels. If eyewitnesses who were present on 25 May in Houla and everything on the camera have recorded their findings, they have tried to offer to the UN Special Commission on Human Rights which turned out to be not interested.

No comments: