One of the hidden massacres in Syria, in the city of Tadamon, (a southern suburb of Damascus), was caught on videos and pictures. Although these war crimes were committed in 2013, the videos and details are just being released. It took a new member of the Assad regime militia to accidentally view the heinous crime videos, and years to be able to leave the country, and be somewhere safe before this could be shared. It was first shared with an opposition activist in France, and then with two academics: Annsar Shahhoud and Prof Uğur Ümit Üngör, from the University of Amsterdam’s Holocaust and Genocide Center. Annsar pretended to be a fan of the regime and catfished over 500 militia members for over two years, gathering information and evidence.
The 2013 massacre: Civilians who were detained by Assad’s militia were gathered up, blindfolded, hands cuffed behind their backs, and executed one by one and thrown into a huge pit that would become their mass grave. 288 innocent civilians, (including seven women and twelve children), were shown being murdered or lying dead on the videos. Their crime? These civilians lived too close to nearby opposition groups, and the regime made an example of them to terrify all civilians to not side with the rebels.
Two of the murderers showed their faces as they killed 41 men. Syrian intelligence officer Amjad Youssuf, (part of branch 227 of the military intelligence), a warrant officer at the time; and another who has since died. They reassured the civilians that they would be fine, told them to run, then shot them, cursed them, and mocked them as they lay dying. Their bodies were set on fire and then buried as the pit was filled in with dirt.
When Annsar finally gained Youssuf’s trust, he admitted to killing a lot of people, and claimed it was revenge for the death of his brother. The monster had no remorse, no conscience, just fear that he could be prosecuted.
Journalist Martin Chulov, of the Guardian, said this is “…irrefutable evidence” of Syrian intelligence committing barbaric and cruel war crimes. The hope is that this new evidence will allow prosecution of Assad and the perpetrators, and perhaps some information for the countless families across Syria who await news of their loved ones.