Talk:Sadad Massacre

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Victims from Sadad lay in coffins awaiting burial (Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh Facebook Photo)
Sadad masscare refers to any and all intentional killing of civilians, number uncertain, during the rebel takeover of Sadad, jointly by units of FSA and the al-Qaeda factions, from October 21-28, 2013. Video shows several civilian men called "Assad's dogs" executed, and credible reports say at least 21 civilians were killed, including nine women, their bodies found after the forces of order again prevailed. Many residents report they were displaced, shot at, had their cars stolen, and so on. Sadad is an ancient Christian town, mentioned in the bible I hear (but only in passing, I'd wager) --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:13, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Update, November 2: reports now say 45 civilians killed, including 15 women and at least three children, and many fighters from both sides, adding around 250-330 total deaths. See below Archbishop Mor Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh reports there are at least ten citizens missing, meaning the civilian death toll could easily be 55. He calls this "the greatest massacre of Christians in Syria." [1] At 45-55, it does seem to have slightly eclipsed the toll of the nearby Al-Duvair massacre five months earlier.

Location

I thought it was north of Damascus like Maaloula, but it's a ways north even of Yabroud, in fact in Homs province, just 30-40 km southeast of Qusayr, here on Google Maps]. The town's name is written صدد in Arabic. In Google Translate, it comes up as "the Process," as does the word for process, so make sure it's the village they refer to.

Vatican news agency FIDES reported a population of 15,000 people, "mostly Syriac Orthodox Christians," and houses "14 churches and a monastery with four priests." [2] Archbishop Almeneh of the affected region said about 2,500 families fled in October, 1,500 remained trapped. Of those =roughly 4,000 families (quite a few for only 15,000 people), he said about 600 families had moved there in the past two years, looking for safety when their previous homes were attacked. [1]

Rebel Motives

I've read aroud the rebels took over Sada finally because they had to, depending:

  • stop some shelling,
  • kill Shabiha
  • get positioned to attack an arms depot,
  • get positioned for a big regional battle,
  • massacre Christians,
  • steal cars and stuff and perhaps people from the Christians there,
  • and steal medical supplies from the hospital.

No reason these and even more can't all be motives. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:52, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Sectarian motives, most importantly, rebels say had no part. Reuters reporter Erika Solomon heard Opposition activists said the town was used to launch rockets into nearby rebel-held areas," and it was for things like this, she heard, that "the raid by the al Qaeda linked-rebels was for military reasons, not religiously motivated." However she noted that there was no military presence in Sadad, according to displaced locals. Solomon also heard a point of agreement on both sides that "another aim of the rebel assault was to break into Sadad's hospital to seize medical supplies." [3]

It must have been something legitimate like that, according to the Rastan coordinating committee, who coordinate the rebel explanation of things. They reported on the 27, as things were turning south for their operation they might have been involved in. This was in Arabic, under "# Homs _ liberated," translated parts:

Many questions I got on (e-mail) after the preparation of the reports from the liberated town of Sadad ... and most of them are in one box ... not important for sectarianism .... And Thaniallchristah part of the land of Syria such as Muslim ... welcomed remain say that Shabiha who swore allegiance to Assad would be killed if he Christian or Muslim ... [4]

It's a fair point if it's even true - when you're at war, it would be (racist?) to spare one enemy just because he's Christian, while you're allowed to kill Sunni village defenders with no such gripes. But of course the attack and their whole Islamist campaign are optional, while these alleged "Shabiha" were defenders. So there was no reason by international law or basic decency or arguably by Islam, to kill them at, let alone slit their throats and brag over the bodies of "dogs," rather than lamenting over the loss of misguided brother Syrians (see the video posted and described here, from which the top image on this page was taken). That's of course Wahabbi extremists with FSA and al-Qaeda are hardly capable of keeping religion out of it as alleged. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:18, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Al-Manar (Lebanon) reported "Terrorists had taken Sadad to turn it into their stronghold for the al-Qalamoun war which both sides are getting ready for, an army member said." [5]

Reported Military Events

Oct. 21-22

Rebel Takeover

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the rebel takeover of Sadad began on October 21, "after two non-Syrian suicide bombers detonated themselves by the Gas well and the Hajanah battalion by al-Mahin and Sadad." [6] The foalition force here, they heard, was "headed by Jabhat al-Nusra, supported by fighters from the ISIS, al-Khadraa' battalion and Maghawir Baba A'mru battalion." [7] The latter would loosely be part of the FSA.

Ambush

Reuters' report of October 22 says after the initial takeover of Sadad, rebels briefly melted away, leaving only nine locals dead. "One resident said that by Tuesday morning the rebels seemed to have disappeared. "We assumed it was because the army was on its way. It turned out they were in hiding in the orchards and the fields and they ambushed the army when it came," one woman said, declining to give her name." [3]

The Syrian Coalition in Turkey (NCSORF) doesn't seem to have acknowledged the violent rebel acquisition of Sadad, but boasted on the 23rd of their ability to keep it; a press release said "The Free Syrian Army destroyed two regime tanks and damaged two military vehicles in Sadad village in rural Homs after clashes with regime forces who were attempting to raid the village." [8] Likely "regime fatalities" of that are catalogued at the CDV (unlike any civilian deaths at all) - 15 names, trying for in Homs province, Oct. 21-30 - many blank locations might be soldier who died here. Only one seems all but certain to be: Colonel Amar al-Jarf, killed October 22 in "Homs: Qusair. He had been "Field commander for operations in the Qusair."

SOHR, October 26: "Information from Sadad indicates that some residents have been able to flee the neighbourhoods controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra. The families of the recent internally displaced have told the SOHR that the clashes and explosions were ongoing in their neighbourhoods." [6] Some locals interviewed on video say they were forced from their homes and in several cases had their cars stolen. The army evacuated some. Others report being forced to stay in their homes. "Elias" told Reuters "After rebels stormed the town yesterday, they entered the main square and spoke to us on loudspeakers, telling us to stay inside. They killed anyone found in the streets ... They didn't come inside people's homes though." Reporter Erika Solomon added that "residents estimated that nine people were killed then." [3]

Government Counter-Offensive

Obviously the ambushed mission of October 22 did not turn the rebels back, and it apparently took a few days. Distance shelling was reported. By the 26th, there clashes still in Sadad, and also possibly related fighting "in the Hawarin and al-Hadath areas of southeast Homs province." SOHR heard that, by the 26th, "The leader of a rebel battalion was killed by the clashes taking place in the towns of Mahin and Sadad" [6]

SOHR Oct 27 There are reports that several residents in the historic town of Sadad are injured and are not receiving any medical attention because of the continuing clashes...The SOHR urges the Red Cross and Red Crescent to intervene immediately in Sadad to assist the injured and besieged residents. Overnight Oct. 26/27, SOHR reported, "5 civilians from the same family were killed by a rocket falling on their home in the western part of Sadad town last night," noting that "the source of the rocket is unknown." [9] This is widely reported by others, but the details remain unclear.

SOHR Oct. 28: "the rebel groups ... have retreated from the town; sounds of clashes were heard in the outskirts." [7]

Reported Abuses of Locals

(forthcoming)

The Massacre

One of the alleged "Shabiha" killed in Christian Sadad. Is that a sliced throat?
It's still not clear what scale of a massacre occurred in Sadad during its week of "liberation." To summarize, the rebel video re-posted by Eretz Zen shows five executed men ("Shabiha"), reports that nine people died in the first day, five from the same family killed in shelling later, then 21 found on the 29th, at least - what's part of what and how each actually died, all remain unclear. Some details on this forthcoming if possible.

One quick note: I've seen around unsupported claims that beheadings are reported. That could just refer to a 17,000 views Youtube video saying that happened. It's a re-posting of an RT broadcast featuring Mother Agnes ("a nun from Latakia") reminding us for context what was (largely) ignored in the massacres there, with plenty beheading reported. From there, a small mix-up. Might have happened in Sadad too, but people are remaining tight-lipped so far on the details. (please excuse the lack of links) --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:50, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

On November 2, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights provided an update on "a massacre in Sadad town in Homs" upping the death toll and the clarity of it. See website announcement or same in a Facebook update. There's a photo of laid out bodies grieved over that I think I've seen before, meaning it's just a visualization, not from Sadad and won't belong here. --Caustic Logic (talk) 00:56, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Homs province: A man, his wife, their 3 children (1 daughter) and a woman were found dead in a well in the Sadad town after they were shot. Which makes it a total of 45 civilians, including 15 women, found dead in Sadad, they were killed during the period in between the 21st and 28th of October ...
The death of toll in Sadad (from 20-26 October):
- 45 civilians.
- Dozens of rebel fighters from eastern Reef Homs and southern east Reef Homs.
- More than 100 regular soldiers.
- At least 80 fighters from the ISIS, al-Nusra and non-Syrian fighters
Raneem and Fadi Drouj, killed and dumped into a well

There still seems to be some unexplained fatalities between 21 and the point where 7 more makes it 45. But 45 + (25-75) + (100-120) + (80-90) = app. 250-330 total deaths on all sides. The number of soldiers reported killed is striking here, as is the number of Jihadists. But it's in the 45 mainly that massacre concerns lie, and the last news here says it includes 15 women, and at least three children who were dumped down a well, likely with sliced throats. Somewhere, perhaps, "Shabiha" are being blamed for all of this too. --Caustic Logic (talk) 00:56, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

The part about bodies in the well is interesting. That keeps happening after "Shabiha" massacres, for example in the Jneid/Mazraa area south of Safirah, Aleppo, repeatedly. That's not a Christian area that I know of. --Caustic Logic (talk) 00:56, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
"Arabi Souri" has translated a SAMA TV report with footage among interviews of pulling the dead people out of the well. --CE (talk) 13:05, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Great add. I love the white-haired guy at 1:19. "What would you like to tell them (the killers?)" he says "I want to say... let people return to their brains. All the world's problems can only be solved with knowledge and by brains. Enough madness. Peoples' nerves are shredded. Enough, enough." Amen. Everyone else seems to copy him or say the same thing. --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:25, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Amen indeed. --CE (talk) 20:26, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

This built on slightly earlier Facebook page updates: an earlier report of air force bombing of Mahin town and new clashes on the outskirts of Sadad, plus this earlier death toll update:

Approximately 50 civilian casualties documented in Sadad
Homs province: Residents of Sadad town found the bodies of a family of 6 (husband, wife, daughter and her 3 children) and another woman in a well, they were all killed by gunfire. This raises the number of civilian bodies found in the historic christian town to 45 people, 15 of them women. The murders began from 21/10/2013 after Jabhat al-Nusra stormed the town ...

45 wins out over "approximately 50" as the civilian toll. The family of 6 is apparently trumped by 5, if later = better, with the three kids directly from the husband and wife, not via an added daughter-mother to make them grandparents. If not, that's one more victims and another level to the assault on Syrian family values. --Caustic Logic (talk) 05:30, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Compare this to the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria (CDV) martyrs database which reflects the generally peaceful situation in Sadad up until recently - not a single death recorded of a person from there (listed as such) prior to the recent events. After the rebel takeover and government counter-assault and reports of massacres, they show one death there so far (same link): A non-civilian (rebel fighter) from up in Qusayr. Mahmod Ahmad Bozan, with FSA, martyed Oct. 27 in Homs: Sadad, "during the clashes with the regime's army forces in Sada village in the eastern suburbs of Homs." No added entries changed that by November 3 anyway.

So, Between the activist groups we have a discrepancy of 250-330 dead vs. one. This is worse even than their recording of the Latakia massacres and after-fighting. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:49, 30 October 2013 (UTC) and --Caustic Logic (talk) 05:18, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Sadad Before October

Background, December 31, 2012: Damaspost.com report (Arabic, Google translated):

On the other hand, liberated the competent authorities in cooperation of a number of dignitaries and clergy Associate Director of Customs Homs Nassif قسطون, having kidnapped by an armed group for two days of his area in the village of the process (Sadad). At the same time, the citizen has been edited (?) George Matanius the authorized days after he was kidnapped near the junction of the fort Brief Talkalkh of an armed group from the area of ​​the fort, and that the efforts of the elders and clerics.
Matanius=Mtanious, a common Greek-sounding name among Homs province Christians who get killed and troubled by rebels, from 2011 onward (Sari Saoud's mom, a family massacred while working at Jandar tourism resort). --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:18, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Sources

These should stay tallied here as like a "further reading section," for reference anchors (full initial citation), along with un-incorporated text. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:52, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

SOHR Facebook

First I saw, Oct. 29, "About an hour ago"

Final death toll for Monday 28/10/2013: Approximately 120 people were killed across Syria. ... By province: Aleppo (2 rebels, 6 civilians). Homs (1 rebel, 25 civilians*). Reef Dimashq (6 civilians). Der'a (2 rebels, 4 civilians). Idlib (1 rebel, 4 civilians). Deir Ezzour (4 civilians). Hama (1 rebel, 3 civilians). Damascus (2 civilians). Quneitira (1 rebel, 2 civilians).
* The bodies of 21 civilians, including 9 women, were found killed in the town of Sadad, which is a historic christian town. 3 civilians were killed by a regime surface-to-surface missile falling on the Mahin area. [10]

--Caustic Logic (talk) 13:39, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Note: Mahin is an apparently related, nearby area, perhaps the direction rebels fell back in, so those allegations are also relevant. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:11, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Background: (was apparently off-line for the earlier part)

Alnemeh Statement

This seems to be the original posting of the widely re-posted statements of Mor Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, a Church official (Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan, elsewhere Archbishop) for Homs and Hama. It includes photos of church desecration and such from Mor Timotheos Matta Alkhouri (Metropolitan & Patriarchal Secretary). [1] In part, it says:

My brothers and sisters
The peace of the Lord be with you:
I present to you a glimpse of the events which have overtaken Sadad over the weeks since its occupation by armed men and terrorists.
...
6- The terrorists entered Sadad on 21-10-2013 and occupied it for a week. On 28-10-2013 they were driven out and some of them were killed.
7- 2,500 families fled Sadad because of this occupation by the terrorists. They spread out between Damascus, Homs, Fayrouza, Zaydal, Maskane, and al-Fhayle.
8- 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields for a week, amongst them children, old men, young men, and women. Some of them fled, walking 8 km from Sadad to al-Hafer to find refuge.
9- Some were killed and some were threatened by the bullet, by strangulation, execution and with the destruction of their houses. 45 civilians were martyred including women, children and men.
10 – 10 persons have gone missing, and the number of injured is 30
11-All the homes of Sadad have been robbed, their possessions looted, by all the forces which entered Sadad. The commercial premises shared the same fate.
12- They destroyed the churches and stole some of their possessions, money and ancient books, and graphitized insults against Christianity.
All government, school, and council buildings were destroyed, along with the post office, the hospital and clinic, as well as the Finance and the Agricultural Ministry branches.
...
These events which happened in Sadad are considered the greatest massacre of Christians in Syria, and is second in the whole Middle East region after the bombing of Our Lady of the Salvation Church in Iraq, in the same month, and almost the same day in 2010. We ask if the terrorists are gone permanently, or if there is the possibility of a return for a second massacre… [1]

Other Sources

Sadad coffins on truck

This page shares and describes two useful videos, one made by proudly FSA rebels after the takeover, the other by Al-Manar (Lebanon):

This video footage from the historic Syriac Christian town of Sadad in Syria’s Homs countryside shows militants from the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) shouting with jubilation as they claim to have “liberated” the Christian town from the regime forces.
The first scene shows the militants next to the corpses of murdered men wearing plain clothes and carrying no weapons. The cameraman claims they were members of the Shabbiha, a term that the opposition uses to refer to all pro-government Syrians. The second scene shows the militants trying to break open the door of the City Council building while taking down the Syrian flag and substituting it with the al-Qaeda flag after throwing the picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the ground and stepping on it.
Sadad, a historical Syrian town in the Homs countryside that dates back to the second millenium BC and is predominantly Syriac Orthodox and home to ancient monasteries and churches, was recently invaded by hardline Wahhabi militants from al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) and their ilk who are fighting against the Syrian government. The eyewitness accounts point to so-called rebels forcing the town’s residents to flee at gun point and stealing their belongings.
The Associated Press reported Friday that hundreds of civilians were trapped in the largely Christian town of Sadad, north of the capital, as Al Qaeda-linked rebels and government forces clashed there for the fifth consecutive day.
“The situation is dire and we are worried about a massacre inside,” Archbishop Silwanos Al-Nemeh told the AP.
In the central province of Homs, battles pitting rebels against regime troops as opposition fighters pushed an advance to take over major weapons depots in the area. One of the battlegrounds is Sadad, a Christian town in the province where shelling killed two men and three women from the same family.
  • RT Arabic video, October 30, footage of aftermath, homes blown up and churches desecrated, etc. Founf on Facebook, explaining (Gtranslated) "Russia today are roaming camera in the town of the process after the establishment of the Syrian Arab Army cleared of aggressors."
Residents return to their homes in the town of Sadad and edit (tally?) the civilians who were abducted ... After units of the Syrian Arab Army and committees of national defense , re-established security and stability to the town of Sadad, townspeople began to return ... most families families who fled the terrorists have returned after days away from their homes ... while the army liberated all civilians who were being held by the armed terrorist groups in a number of town houses. The sources added that the elements of army engineers had, during inspections and combing, dismantled another car bomb with large quantities of explosives that was parked the town center.
Syrian Army regained control of the ancient town of Sadad after days of intensive fighting with militants from al-Nusra terrorist group.
Around two thousand militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front stormed and occupied the ancient town of Sadad, 60 kilometers (37 mi) South of Homs, nearly a month ago and besieged its fifteen thousand residents to use them as human shields against the Syrian army, Al-Alam reported.
The militant groups who were driven out of Sadad were from the same groups that raided Syria's ancient Christian town of Maalula in Northeast of Damascus a couple of months ago.
Terrorists had taken Sadad to turn it into their stronghold for the al-Qalamoun war which both sides are getting ready for, an army member said.
Clashes between the army and militants in some Western and Northern parts of the town are still going on. [5]
After the operation that liberated the Christian village of Sadad from the Giish and Jabhat al-Nusra militants, local residents discovered two mass graves that contained about 30 bodies of men, women and children, killed at the hands of the extremists around October 26–28 this year, reports Salam1.
According to eyewitnesses' evidence, the common graves of these Christian martyrs were not found at once. In the vicinity of the neighboring village of Zeidal the first burial site, a grave for ten people, was discovered. In the view of criminalists, five men killed last Saturday became the oppositionists’ first victims. All the other bodies were buried in the same grave on the following day. Together with the remains of the residents of Sadad who fled from their native village, the corpse of a well-known engineer, Colonel Sarkis Koriakos Sarkis, brother of the Syrian hero Matanius Sarkis (searched for by the militants), was found in Zeidal.
The second common grave, similar to the first one, was situated on the territory of Sadad, and contained about 20 bodies of men, women, children, and elderly victims, killed by the militants on the night of Monday, October 28.
Discovered dead in a well in Sadad were the remains of six members of one family including Matanios El Sheikh, 85, his wife, Habsah, 75, their daughter, Njala, 45, and grandsons Ranim, aged 18, a first-year university student, and his 16-year-old brother Fadi, in class XI at school.
Reports state they were thrown down a well on 26th October along with the boys’ paternal grandmother, 90-year-old Mariam.
Excellent details here with an obvious error. Ranim is normally a girl's name (had to check), and her picture is a girl's/young woman's too. You can see the family resemblance to her little brother. We have Matanious appearing again (see above entry on "the Syrian hero Matanius Sarkis" and above again from late 2012 the kidnapped "George Matanius"). The 5-6 dispute settled on 6 including the middle daughter making the elders grandparents, and the extra woman explained - 90 years old, Jesus. Mr. Drouj, I guess, whoever and wherever he is, lost his mother, his wife, his two near-grown kids, and his parents-in-law. Proper section on them later with other re-orgs. --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:23, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Devastating Images & Report from the Christian Town of Sadad in Syria – Exclusive Special Report by Mor Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, The Orthodox Church/OCP Media Network, October 31, 2013
  2. ASIA/SYRIA - Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Alnemeh: "In Sadad, the largest massacre of Christians in Syria"FIDES, October 31, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Islamist rebels fight army for Christian town in Syria By Erika Solomon, Reuters, October 22, 2013
  4. Facebook post Rastan coordinating whatever, Oct. 27
  5. 5.0 5.1 Al-Nusra Out of Syria Ancient Sadad Town Al-Manar English, Oct. 29, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Homs Province Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Facebook post, October 26, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Homs Province Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Facebook post, October 28, 2013
  8. Press Release, National Coalition of Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, Istanbul, October 23, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 Homs Province Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Facebook post, October 27, 2013
  10. Homs Province Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Facebook post, October 29, 2013