Haswiyeh Massacre

From A Closer Look On Syria
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A Haswiyeh man in mourning gestures with his fingers across his throat while explaining what happened there when other men in black passed through [1]

On January 15/16, 2013, a reported 100-106 people were killed in the farming town of Basatin Al-Haswiyeh (Orchards of Haswiyeh) or just Haswiyeh (Arabic الحصوية, meaning "gravel"). (for more on the name, see talk page) On the northern edge of the central Syrian city of Homs (locatable here on Wikimapia and here on Google maps), it's dominated by orchards and small fields, with only about 1,500 residents, plus refugees from other areas, surely reduced now.

As the story was first announced by opposition sources via the world media, the massacre was of "whole families," as many as 13 of them, including 32 from one specific (Sunni) family. The victims were reportedly shot, slashed, and whatnot and then burnt in their homes. Not surprisingly, the killers are reported as Alawites and Shi'ites from surrounding villages. For the first time, it's being alleged this is part of a strategy of creating an Alawite/Shi'ite/Christian breakaway state, purified of Sunnis in advance (see Sectarian Claims. This was all conveyed by opposition/rebel sources by phone and internet to the outside world.

But quickly, a competing set of reports emerged, from mainstream British news outlets interviewing people living with the aftermath in Busatin Al-Haswiyeh (as well as local official sources). These suggest-emphatically - that the assailants and killers were rebels, dressed blacker than usual, possibly from Jabhat al-Nusrah. (see Locals Blame Al-Nusrah)

Activists Speak

The UK Daily Telegraph cited "opposition sources from Homs" who blamed "loyalist militiamen backed by government troops" for the attack, which featured "torching houses and slashing victims to death with knives." UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said "whole families were executed", with one family losing up to 32 members, including women and children. [2] CNN heard, from "anti-government activist Abu Rami," that "13 families," all of them Sunni, were killed in "Husweyeh." (Rami also blamed the massacre on, in part, a lack of NATO bombing). [3]

James Miller at Enduring America has assembled a collection of news items and analysis on this incident. One feature is a detailed Facebook post from "Homs Up-To-Date," citing 105 victims. In part:

Reports emerging from Husweyeh massacre behold such intolerable pain of an extremely appalling massacre committed against 13 families according to eyewitnesses. ... On Tuesday, 15/1/2013, the regime's military security forces entered the village 12:00 p.m. [Syria time] and arbitrarily arrested a number of men...

At 1 PM some captives were released, and at 2 PM six buses with Shabiha and security forces arrived "and parked near Al Boushi factory for ceramics." They began their hunt for various Sunni families and killed their members where they found them, including hiding in trees. This continued for an unspecified span, apparently though the night and into the next day. Pillage and rape were apparently involved, by this account:

Most of the eyewitnesses recounts said that the gold women were wearing was robbed after they were disgustingly humiliated whilst others were kidnapped/arrested and no one know anything about them nor about how many are they. [4]

Telegraph: "Haswiyeh is not far from the region of Houla, where 108 people were killed over two days last May. The UN described the Houla killings as a war crime perpetrated by the government forces and shabiha militia backing Assad's regime." [2] The town's proximity to Al-Houla, site of the Houla massacre is often mentioned as helping to suggest the government is responsible. Clicking that link might be instructive.

Sectarian Claims/Breakaway State

The massacre in Al-Haswiyeh and the widely-mentioned one in Al-Houla, plus others, are now alleged to be part of a broad government strategy. The common patterns of allegations appear again here: The Telegraph reported "Waleed al-Fares, an activist in the area said that most of the victims were Sunnis and that many of the attackers came from the nearby village of Mazraa, which he said is predominantly Shia. [2]

More than usual, there is talk of who was spared and why. Homs Up-to-Date: "The village includes Sunnis, Christians, and Alawties, but the massacre is proven to be purely driven by sectarianism since all the families massacred are Sunni families only...." [4] CNN: "Rami said the families killed were Sunnis, suggesting that the killers were motivated by sect differences. Sunnis, Christians and Alawites in the village were spared, he said." [3]

AP's Bassem Mroue and Zeina Karam pulled this together with other activist claims into the spectacular, genocidal, grand strategy behind these patterns: "Sweep of majority Sunni village could pave way for Alawite enclave"

The opposition believes the mass killings that have occurred, mostly in overwhelmingly Sunni villages that lie near main routes into the Alawite sect's coastal strip, are meant to lay the groundwork for a breakaway enclave. [5]

(Where the alleged Aqrab Massacre in the same area fits into that strategy is unclear)

By combined implication, this breakaway state will not be just a greater Latakia for the Alawites, but for other Shia, Christians, and apparently everyone but Sunnis. But to get it, they need to liquidate the local Sunnis, in the same kind of fits and spurts country-based rebels could pull off, if they wanted. The implications are clearly troubling, and also troubling in less clear ways.

Locals Blame Al-Nusrah

Brits Speak to Locals

Local men clamor to tell ITV and the world what happened in Haswiyeh

Not one, but two British news teams swiftly brought some questions into the mix, a-la Alex Thomson's pioneering approach. Most journalists gather their reports by phone from activists and from available sources, note that they can't verify anything, and use the standard fallacies to explain that it's the Syrian government's fault. In contrast, ITV's international editor Bill Neely and a team visited the town (given as "Basatin al Huwaisa") just as news broke on Thursday, January 17. "Homs has been the scene of several massacres," he would write. "More than one has been contested, as one side blames the other for the atrocity. This is yet another." [1] BBC's Chief International Correspondent, Lyse Doucet, headed a team that arrived on Friday, the 18th. [6] "This is a war crime," she would quip. But who committed it came through less clearly than it did in the standard SOHR-type reports.

What they heard from soldiers, authorities, and most importantly from presumably genuine local civilians, was completely at odds with what activists had been saying. The men who approached Neely told him the attack was by rebel fighters, but "the fighters were different from before. They wore "black uniforms" and had headbands with Jihadi slogans." Most, but not all, were Syrians, they felt. "One [attacker? witness?] said they were from Jabhat al Nusra." The Governor of Homs province, Ahmad Moneir Mohammed, also said the attackers were with the Al-Nusrah front. [1]

Lyse Doucet heard the same: "Soldiers who escorted the team to the area said hundreds of men from a militant Islamist rebel group, the al-Nusra Front, committed the killings." Of course they would say that, some would observe. The local support was there. "One woman told the BBC the same," the main article passed on. [6] But another BBC article from the 19th, more directly from Doucet herself, noted "others in the village confirmed the army's account." [7] Note the difference between singular and plural.

The Other Side Emerges?

BBC's Lyse Doucet was able to salvage some doubts about the picture she saw, which have been amplified successfully by others and helped neutralize the effects of this reporting. Soldiers, mainly, were cited as the source, with a local or locals passingly mentioned as supporting it. More attention was given to the lone dissenter.

But out of earshot of the official Syrian minders, another woman said the army was present at the time and that some soldiers even apologised for the murders, saying others had acted without orders.[6]

This serves to underscore the very real (but easy to overrate) ambiguity that comes from the presence of government soldiers (and apparently "minders.") It can't really be known whether that second woman is a window onto the truth in a town of enforced lies. or if she's a representative of the lie establishment standing out in an area where truth prevails. Doucet's second report enforces the singularity: "Others in the village confirmed the army's account. But one woman, who spoke to us off-camera" said otherwise. [7]

A New York Times report by Anne Barnard managed to more than invert the witness situation laid out above. She ignored Neely's unambiguous ITV report and mentioned only the BBC's slightly mixed report, which comes through quite differently:

Soldiers escorting the BBC journalists blamed the extremist group Jabhet al-Nusra for the killings, while out of earshot of the soldiers, villagers blamed the army and said some soldiers had apologized for the killings. [8]

Errors: No locals are cited as supporting the soldiers, the one disagreeing with them is transformed to more than one, and those are given as, implicitly, representatives of all villagers. This constitutes a serious distortion that turns the established record almost completely on end. It's made to seem that even on-the-ground reporting (of the kind NYT, Reuters, AP, and almost everyone else avoids) still manages to support the initial activist version. But that's simply not true.

Doucet's report managed to set the stage quite well for this mistreatment. Being in touch with the Al-Nusrah front, the BBC had gotten a denial, that they refrain from killing civilians. Both sides say they do, she notes, but one is lying here. When the off-camera woman speaks and implicates the soldiers, the b-roll footage they chose was of burned remains and then soldiers, their boots and rifles, as a reminder. Then she reminds us, over footage of some charred bodies, that "activists say this was the work of pro-government militia known as Shabiha. Some day, we’ll know for certain who did this. A war crime happened here." [6] (emphasis in original). The someday is presumably in the inevitable future period called "Post-Assad." The activists will probably be "proven" correct here and everywhere else.

Punished for Helping - or Not Helping - Rebel Attacks

As for the purpose of the raid, Neely was told the men in black had come to use the town for an attack on the military intelligence headquarters nearby. He was shown one of the massacre homes to support this:

Local men say a woman and five children were killed there. They say rebels in black uniforms had come to the house and wanted to use the roof to attack the base. Many of the locals had refused. At that point, say the men, they were shot. The bodies of the women and children were burned. I saw blood on the floor, a room where there had been a fire and human remains. The children's clothes were hanging on a washing line. [1]

One opposition activist gave Reuters a totally inverted version of that claim on the 19th; locals were killed by the military/Shabiha for allowing rebels to use their homes in the past. He said:

Abu Yazen, an opposition activist in Homs, said the rebel Free Syrian Army occasionally entered the farmland of Basatin al-Hasawiya to attack a nearby military academy. "Assad's forces punish civilians for allowing the rebels to enter the area," he said. Other activists said the raid was carried out by pro-Assad militia. [9]

Questioning the Al-Nusrah ID

One woman seen on video retelling her story in Arabic, in Neely’s ITV news report, is said to fail to identify the killers, describing them only as armed men. "The armed men killed my three children, she says. They came at night. I couldn't tell who they were. We're just farmers. Now we have nothing." [1] This is unusual; all other survivors/witnesses/informed sources are quite clear who they believe the killers were. That they'd be hard to see at night makes most sense if they were wearing black, although she doesn't specify that.

Presented with the conflict between Shabiha or rebel terrorists, the ever-inventive James Miller at Enduring America tried rejecting both. Miller speculated that other parties, dressed as al-Nusrah to trick people, carried out the killings. "The identity of the attackers may have been confused, depending on who saw them ... it's possible that the attackers were meant to look like Jabhat al Nusra.” But he noted that the described outfit with Islamist-slogan headband “is hardly a positive identification,” and in fact doesn’t sound exactly like their known costume style. He raised the possibility that “Al Nusra has been framed,” either by other rebels (as he says Neely suggests) or by “Lebanese men, perhaps from Hezbollah” as one unverified source claimed. As support, he pointed out “there is more evidence of larger numbers of Hezbollah working in Homs than Jabhat al Nusra.” [4] Even if this is true (unverified, hard for anyone to really know), it ignores the swathes of coutryside to the north and west where rebels and Sunni Islamists have numerous held towns to base attacks from.

In case this false-flag notion has any merit - and it’s worth at least brief consideration - there are a few inherent problems. First, there was no black flag cited, the best clue to fighting under the flag of Al-Nusrah (especially in a fake operation to that end). The claims that it was them seem to be guesses, perhaps to tap into known anti-Al-Qaeda sentiment. The fighters might have never even claimed that, and were just some other dark Jihadists.

Furthermore, activist reports didn’t mention how they saw through any such ruse to tag the true killers, and don’t even mention the ruse at all. They said that bused-in Shabiha and security forces, not the same disguised as Al-Nusrah, carried out the killlings. Either their sources didn’t see the black-clad killers in action, or there were no no such people (they wore other/regular clothing), or there were black outfits on the killers, but the activists' (black-clad?) sources chose not to mention it.

The Reported Victims

Massacre vs. Battle Deaths

A tweet from the 17th by journalist Zaid Benjamin said "#BREAKING: Over 180 people killed during 3 days of Assad troops operations in Hasawayah town in Homs - Syrian Activist Abu Ja'afar." [4] Nothing else supports such a high number, with 106 being the most common. A tally, perhaps not final, of 100 was cited by "Youssef al-Homsi, an activist based in Homs" who spoke to the Telegraph. He had a list ready of exactly 100 names, "including 15 women and 10 children." [2]That is, his list of "killed families" was of 75% men. This would suggest, as with Tremseh or Qubeir, a smaller rebel massacre of maybe 30-45 civilians, mostly of one family, then many battle dead from after the army responded. Even if we take the smaller portion as families, why so many women (15) and so few children (10)? It could be that rebels count adults from a young age (13 or 14), so some girls are women, and some boys among the 75 men. Adjusted, then, that 100 might be better read (an example): 12 women, 15 civilian men, 18 children, and 55 battle dead (perhaps including government troops killed, but mostly rebel fighters)

Neely's report brought back supports for that interpretation. Only "dozens" were massacred by the black-clad militants, with a "common figure" of "around 30" The governor, Mohammed, "stated that there had been killings. Civilians had died; four children and four women, he thought, as well as men who had been killed in fighting between the army and rebels." A commander told Neely there had been fighting for "days" by the 17th. "They have killed rebels, he said. But not civilians, not deliberately anyway, though they can be hit in the middle of a battle, he said." That would clearly be irrelevant to the charges in question. [1]

However, this interpretation with only 30-40 does not jibe at all with the opposition claims of 13 familes, one family with 32 killed, and large numbers suggested from others. This is worth a sub-section.


The assault on Haswiyeh was accompanied by arrests of some number of people, falling into three categories of unknown size. Some of them were released, according to Homs Up-To-Date (cited by Enduring America), and some killed. Two captives are named there; Abdul Haseeb Deyab was killed. Another prisoner was “Imam of Al Tayyar mosque in Husweyyeh village,” or so someone said anyway. He was likely among those released/not killed, probably a stanch Sunni who blames non-Sunnis for the massacre. Homs Up-To-Date also mentioned a third category of those who were taken away by the killers, perhaps dead by now but unknown. "others were kidnapped/arrested and no one know anything about them nor about how many are they." [4]

Neely's crew was shown two alleged rebel supporters arrested in the raids following the massacre. The two men are paraded out, blindfolded, apparently beaten, and acting very frightened. Even in front of the camera, they are abused; a guard is seen burning one of the men's fingers with a cigarette to keep him from locking his hands behind his back. It's a troubling sequence. Neely is told the men had been found with a M-16 rifle, American-made. [1] Some, like EA's James Miller, fairly point out this overly-obvious American model is the perfect choice to frame someone with, if one wanted to accuse them of being a foreign agent. [4]

Stricken Families, as Reported

Reuters reported, on the 19th from the SOHR, a set of three families (two unnamed) suggesting that at least 63 of the victims came from these alone (unless the 14 including 3 is the same, in error, as the one of 17).

Activists said 17 members of the Khazam family had been killed during Tuesday's raid on Basatin al-Hasawiya. "The Observatory has the names of 14 members of one family, including three children, and information on other families who were completely killed, including one of 32 people," Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Observatory, told Reuters. [9]That would make 46 actually reported by SOHR.

Neely, speaking to non-rebel locals, was given "the names of families who had been killed," including (at least) "members of the the Hamza family, the Khoulis and Ghalouls."[1] That's four families named.

Homs Up-To-Date cited a fifth family - Deyab - as taking special hits. Among those first arrested (a number of men) were "martyr Abdul Haseeb Deyab.” Some were released, but not apparently martyr Deyab. Then a Abu Mashhour Shehab Deyab's house hosted the burning of “some young men [who] were extrajudicially executed” in other houses and then burnt in his house. Then on the Al Deyab farmlands, "they also executed the whole family and burnt their corpses." Numbers not specified. [4]

Homs Up-To-Date also cited Al Mahbani family with "farmlands right beside Al Deyab farmlands, where they killed more than 17 members." And finally, the Al Ghaloul family – mentioned to Neely - had their orchards raided, they say by the Shabiha-types, who “executed all the men, women, and children” they found from that family. [4]

Bodies Tied to Trees?

Several claims from both sides of the divide over blame jointly suggest some kind of grisly death in the orchards outside of town, where bodies were left to rot. Homs Up-To-Date related "[A] Few of the young men were able to escape as they climbed on trees and hid in orchards. But the regime's Shabiha (thugs) caught them, executed them and tied them to trees." [4] James Miller at Enduring America, citing this report, made this unusual observation that manages to reject both competing versions and propose a third explanation, casting the sensationalism of the bodies-in-trees claim as evidence against itself:

A problem was immediately apparent. The claims made by some activists included beheadings, knife attacks, and summary executions. But the evidence did not show any of this. Instead, it was obvious that the villages had been heavily bombed, likely by aircraft but possibly by tanks and artillery, and the reports of knife-wielding shabiha and bodies hanging in trees were exaggerated. [4]

However, summary in-home executions are clearly evidenced, and there remains no evidence or claim of tanks and fighter jet attacks (both sides blame up-close slash-and-burn massacres). But there is supporting evidence for executed bodies in the orchards, if not necessarily strung up on trees. ITV's Bill Neely reported on meeting the local men:

It became clear many people had been killed in the streets, in houses and in orchards. The bodies of those in houses and streets had been removed but the orchard was in the open, and snipers were still firing. Bodies were still there, they said. [1] He specified "I did not see any bodies," but he didn't seem to doubt the claim. There is a sick and compelling logic to tying victims visibly to trees, inviting loved ones to recover them, and then sniping anyone who tries, but no one has specifically proposed that yet, and the whole bodies-in-the-orchards sub-story remains unclear.

Crime Scene Clues

Macro (Town Level)

Haswiyeh map.png

James Miller passed on, from a discussion with Bill Neely of ITV, that "the river divides the village, half of which the rebels control and the other half of which the military controls. The rebels use the orchards and nearby homes to attack the Intelligence Headquarters to the east." [4] [Wikimapia has an entry for "الحصوية" that highlights a broad area including a small patch of built-up streets like both video reports show. This must be the half the government can bring them to, the near (east) side and the north-center, anyway (see more detailed map below). And there's the much larger area of scattered homes set amongst orchards. The town part stops at the Orontes River, as shown on the inset map, with the green stretch residing mostly across it to the west and southwest.

Wikimapia and visual common sense indicate (as shown here) the military intel/academy/artillery base/army terrain area is to the west of town, not the east, nearer the orchard half the attacks were/would be launched from. Doucet had soldiers, corroborated by locals, who “said hundreds of men had entered the village from adjoining fields.” [7] To the south is more orchards and the bulk of Homs, to the west and north are city areas probably under government control. So the direction of entry is most likely from the northwest, where orchards soon yield to fields, and a bit off to places like Ar-Rastan, Al-Houla, Aqrab, Mazraaf, Halfaya, etc., where hundreds of rebels can gather and act at a time. They'd have to cross the highway and over or very near the "army terrain" to get into Haswiyeh's orchards. But otherwise it's small town, fields, and back-roads all the way from their closest known hotbed of Taldou, 20 km northwest.

As support for that, rebels said the killers came in the opposite way. The east end of town, closer to government-controlled Homs, has a factory of some sort with piles of perhaps clay-rich soil scraped-up nearby. This might well be the "Al Boushi factory for ceramics" cited by Homs Up-To-Date as the Shabiha killer congregation point. It's next to the mosque, and was recently built, appearing on satellite images as a construction site in 2011, and as complete in early 2012. The square tower went up early, over a pit some underground firing area, apparently. Both ITV and BBC teams were escorted in from the east, on a road right to a tower of this factory area. The grounds are also where Neely and his local witnesses walked and talked, the same tower visible.

The base from which the army escorted both journalist teams is at the other end of that road, in an unsure location. It was apparently at or near the massive sugar refinery. The proximity of that to the alleged massacre parking lot will not be lost on some, and that's likely why the activists said the killers came in that way.

The killing locations are of course a clue, and they tend to support the locals, not the activists. Doucet says in her BBC report "most of the killings took place in houses down this hill," with a heavily tree-lined dirt road sloping down to a walled complex of large, red-roofed buildings. That would put the kill area on the west end of town, here on GM. [6], circled in red below-the northwest end of town. It would seem the rebels could have entered this nearest part of town with more scatted people/resistance, crossing where the river is at its narrowest, and a crossing (through a building?) lays nearby. They would most likely be on foot at this point, and dragging the bodies back would be a hassle.

Haswiyeh detail map.png

As for the other version, these homes are clear across Haswiyeh from the possible ceramics factory. For the Army/Shabiha/Shi'ite/Hezbollah killers in the activist story, this would require a drive of at most 0.33 km from/past the sugar plant, parking the buses there at the east edge of town as reported, and then a walk of the same distance or more through town, when there is a perfectly drivable road all the way there.

How many of the killings and abductions were in the rebel-held orchards and homes across the way is unclear. Many lived there, with even less concentration and presumably less protection. Some people say some of them wound up tied to the trees they tried to hide in (see above).

Micro (Home Level)

As mentioned above, Bill Neely's ITV crew was shown a home where, it was said, a woman and her five young children (the oldest seven) were killed after refusing to let the rebels have the roof. They were burnt in a side-room the locals said, and that room had clearly been burned thoroughly, with a less-charred blanket where one of the bodies had been. In the outer room next to it, laundry hangs on a line, and an empty clothes basket lies in a puddle of blood on the linoleum floor, with a smear showing where the victim was the dragged away.

In that spot, however, a man - possibly a rebel fighter - was killed. Syrian private broadcaster Addounia TV showed the scene in a report of Jan. 17, before his body was removed. The nature of his injuries and cause of death are unclear (third image below). [10] They show the same charred room to the side ITV was shown.

Charred remains on Jan. 18

It's not certain where the home Neely was shown is located, but most or all of his exterior shots seem to be on the east edge of town or in the open areas right next to it. BBC's Doucet took a foray much further in, due west to the top of the hill overlooking the bad place at the far end of town. Only by a safer roundabout route (northern, presumably) did soldiers get her up closer to where some victims, charred ones only, had still not been removed. She had just said that the soldiers said they had already removed the bodies - and this was the 18th, at least two days after the killings. [7] This, and the fact that bodies were left behind and not re-claimed by the hypothetical rebel killers (who usually do truck away and copiously video-record the victims they frequently "find"), are both interesting aspects of this case worth considering.

The buildings she shows seem to be in the compound in the north half of the red-circled area above. Exact buildings, perhaps, will be proposed. At right, a sample scene of victims she said seemed to have been killed while trying to flee. The fuel bottle was left behind. In total, she saw at least three scenes where bodies were or had been, which she described as within "two family compounds." One body in the doorway and one a bit outside it were seen at one house, as shown in the inset image above. Another building was gutted by fire and had a few charred bodies inside. Another spot with no burning was "a kitchen with long blood smears on the floor [which] suggested at least two bodies were dragged away." Poignantly, she wondered, "had people been hiding in the cupboards?" [7]

A less verifiable rebel video, posted January 16, shows 18 seconds of the interior of a large home, charred and jumbled, with what seems to be two charred bodies. The cameraman is sobbing loudly as he films, suggesting it's his own home, or that we're to believe that. It was online and available to activists like the posters here, Sham Syrian News Network, on the 16th - after the massacres ended, perhaps before the fighting, and a day before news flashes were going out. [11]

Other massacre-sites, per rebel sources, were on "farms" outside al-Haswiyeh - thus likely in the rebel-held orchards area. This might be a significant chunk or majority of a death toll that really is larger than the 30 or so locals in town knew of. It might also be total fiction, or something in between. Homs Up-to-Date, for example, reports that, after killing a man of the Deyab family and burning bodies in his house, the Shabiha went to the Al Deyab farmlands, where "they also executed the whole family and burnt their corpses." Numbers not specified. They also cited Al Mahbani family with "farmlands right beside Al Deyab farmlands, where they killed more than 17 members." And finally, the Al Ghaloul family – mentioned to Neely - had their orchards raided, they say by the Shabiha-types, who “executed all the men, women, and children” they found from that family. [4]

Considering this claim of follow-up raids in the farms that almost have to be west of town - and referring to the big area map above - did they get there the same way retreating rebels would have? Or would they drive back and the long way around to further punish these families for being so helpful to the rebels?

World Reaction

French foreign ministry spokesman Vincent Floreani said on Thursday, Jan. 17 that the killings at Al-Haswiyeh were “new proof of the savagery of President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.” [12]

Saudi Gazette reported "A Homs-based activist who identified himself as Abu Bilal said, via the Internet, that the killings are “a stain on the world’s conscience.”" [12]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights urged the UN to send a fact-finding mission; As quoted by the AFP, Observatory member Rami Abdelrahman said “this needs to be investigated by the United Nations.” [13] The SOHR's Facebook page said "We urge the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to send an international investigation team to Homs immediately, so as to investigate and fully document the massacre in order to bring all those responsible to justice." [14] This is unlikely to happen, in part for reasons the SOHR is familiar with. Asking for a similar investigation of killings in Ras Al-Ayn, they said "we also bring to the UN's attention that they cannot refuse to send a mission by using the Syrian authorities refusal as an excuse, since the regime has no control whatsoever on that part of Syria." [15] That "excuse" would probably work in government-held Homs, and would likely be cited if any explicit refusal to investigate is ever issued.

UNICEF issued a non-specific statement on the incident on January 20:

“Media reports today [Friday] from the scene of mass killings in the village of Hasawiya outside Homs said whole families were among the dead in horrific circumstances,” said Maria Calivis, Unicef regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Unicef condemns these latest incidents in the strongest terms, and once again calls on all parties to ensure civilians — and children especially — are spared the effects of the conflict.” [16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Claim and counter-claim surrounds latest Syria 'massacre' Bill Neely, ITV, January 17, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Families burnt and hacked to death in fresh Syria massacre By Ruth Sherlock, Antakya, The Telegraph 4:54PM GMT 17 Jan 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 Aleppo University student describes chaos, carnage after blasts By Ashley Fantz and Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, updated 4:29 PM EST, Thu January 17, 2013 J
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 Syria Feature: Who Carried Out the Mass Killing in Haswiyeh?James Miller, Enduring America
  5. Syrian pro-regime gunmen kill more than 100 By BASSEM MROUE and ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press – January 17, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Syria crisis: BBC sees evidence of Homs massacre BBC News, 18 January 2013 Last updated at 15:05 ET
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Syria crisis: Locals tell of Homs massacre Lyse Doucet, BBC News, January 19, 2013
  8. As Killings Go on, Syria Reacts Strongly to War-Crimes PetitionAnne Barnard, New York Times, January 19, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 Massacre of over 100 reported in Syria's Homs By Oliver Holmes, Reuters, January 19, 2013 7:04pm GMT
  10. عدد من الشهداء في مجزرة ارتكبتها المجموعات الارهابية المسلحة في بساتين الحصوية بحمص Youtube video, Published by Syriatube97 on January 17, 2013
  11. شام حمص الحصوية جثث شهداء المجزرة 16 1 تحذير قاسي SHAMSNN Published on Jan 16, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 Women and children among 100 killed in new Syria ‘massacre’ Saudi Gazetter (Agencies) Last Updated : Friday, January 18, 2013 12:25 AM
  13. 106 dead in new Homs, Syria massacre, report AFP via Ya Libnan, January 17, 2013
  14. Basateen al-Huswiya massacre Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (on Facebook) January 17 at 2:27pm
  15. Civilians and children of Ras al-Ein killed by mortar attacks and snipers SOHR, Jan. 21
  16. UN denounces bloody week for children in Syria AFP Via Gulf News, January 20, 2013