More condemnations and sanctions will not be enough. If we don’t draw the line at Houleh, larger massacres will follow and the fragmentation of Syria will become unstoppable, with regional and global consequences.
The Houleh Massacre
The pounding of Houleh District (an amalgamation of towns, the largest being Tildo and Kafar Laha; population estimated at 100,000 mostly Sunni Muslims) by pro-Assad militias on Friday May 25, left close to 100 locals dead, including by latest counts 47 children (below the age of 10) and 64 adults. This is just the latest episodes in a series of massacres perpetrated by Assad loyalists since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, but the first such development on this scale since the beginning of the Annan Mission. The massacre came on a Friday dedicated to the anniversary of Hamzah Al-Khateeb, a little boy from Daraa Province who was captured, tortured and killed by pro-Assad security forces.
The fact that UN monitors ended up confirming the massacre should come as a further proof of the accuracy of reports and videos produced by field activists. News organizations might continue to repeat the mantra that they have no way of verifying the accuracy of the videos they show, but whenever they did gain access, they have always been able to verify that the videos and reports were indeed accurate. Perhaps they should modify their mantra to reflect this as well out of respect for the bravery of all those field activists who risk their lives to get the truth out.
As usual, rather than inspiring fear, the massacre inspired rage, and people all over the Syria took to the streets in a sign of increasing defiance. Units of the Free Syrian Army have also conducted a number of reprisal attacks against loyalist military checkpoints and convoys. Deir Ezzor City in the northeast particular witnessed intense clashes between member of loyalist militias and local resistance.
Houleh: The dead children (WARNING: video is gruesome) http://youtu.be/gosLh8HvCEU Some of the dead adults http://youtu.be/q2jUq3N4ubI Close-ups http://youtu.be/0tZMvnQ3Wc0 , http://youtu.be/w9dUN5pN8IU Preparing the dead for burial http://youtu.be/ocfT2tFOg4w The Mass Burial http://youtu.be/cnnX7wUB7cI , http://youtu.be/cz8UUCll46E Some of the survivors: women and children come together under the shelling for comfort, as we can see here. http://youtu.be/6Rl8NyRvu1s That was the problem. A couple of homes were hit, and the result was a massacre. Monitors arrive to inspect the situation http://youtu.be/9B_yxZPDMQ8 , http://youtu.be/5W2T-doUSPg They later confirm the massacre.
In Hama City, on May 24, a woman and her 4 children were slaughtered in cold blood by pro-Assad death squads http://youtu.be/Lb1D5fme2oo
In Kafrenboudeh, Hama Province, pro-Assad militias in action http://youtu.be/gUxKWawLOhg
In Damascus City’s Midan District, protesters take to the streets in defiance shouting “where are your dogs, Assad?” http://youtu.be/Olskg7dVvAs
Earlier in the day, the suburb of Arbeen was pounded http://youtu.be/ffh4lQRP_ds , http://youtu.be/LmMaMg1VjWw
Locals in Al-Qadam Neighborhood come under fire as they took part in the funeral of one of their colleagues http://youtu.be/GwX9XvlvotU
Some of Today’s martyrs from Damascus: Naher Eisheh http://youtu.be/eZVgFmaTGsk Al-Qadam http://youtu.be/7FSWuzXUnLw
Funerals in Damascus City: Kafar Sousseh http://youtu.be/si7KwYXB1nw , http://youtu.be/Dcu3mEvW0iA Zamalka http://youtu.be/yAMWhjJQ7q4
Saturday Rallies in Damascus: Tadamon http://youtu.be/nNy1BGDCdG0 Ruknaddine http://youtu.be/ELwqiVqifXE Yabroud http://youtu.be/2kE9yyPZRfg Zamalka http://youtu.be/yQ-cT35kGKM Zabadani http://youtu.be/x4TILQYnQZ0 Eltal http://youtu.be/qiEosxNjuJU Barzeh http://youtu.be/R-8Kk47OfRo Jazmatiyeh http://youtu.be/-dGOtgk907A Mazzeh http://youtu.be/fRkV4aEec-Y
Similar rallies took place in communities all across the country.
In Aleppo Province, the town of Eizaz came under renewed pounding by heavy artillery http://youtu.be/vRNKCdqtFzk , http://youtu.be/mVKKftCq_PA
In Aleppo city’s Salaheddine Neighborhood, protesters clash with local security http://youtu.be/02Shm8F1tkY Before the clashes http://youtu.be/pM7lf9muqmE then, protesters come under fire http://youtu.be/3SjX0tBmorc
In Daraa Province, the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh comes under intense pounding http://youtu.be/JJtNrT-xntM , http://youtu.be/JdAWGyLTwCQ
In Homs City, Qoussour Neighborhood comes under fire at night http://youtu.be/blVWR44e_sY
In the town of Rastan, UN monitors relay the regime’s conditions to local leaders of the FSA: they want them to put all their weapons in one area. Of course, no agreement is reached. This is an aimless mission http://youtu.be/nwDqYH3k9nQ
In Qusayr, a failed attempt at reviving a wounded man http://youtu.be/QtkqQSLnQH4 Martyrs http://youtu.be/XE3RWad6Xsc , http://youtu.be/yAblB4LYTg0
In Kafar Takhareem, Idlib Province, the sounds of automatic gunfire ring through the night http://youtu.be/MDcWq5LM6kU
In Khan Shaikhoon, Idlib Province, locals find a mass grave for people killed by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/6g0X3fugsYI
Local FSA units form a unified military council in Idlib http://youtu.be/XM1uVycaWiw