Talk:Tellawi Family Massacre, April 17, 2011

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Brigadier-General Abdo Khedr al-Telawi

A day shy of one month after the first peaceful protester was allegedly shot dead in Deraa, this happens in Homs: a Syrian brigadier-General, Alawite as it so happens, was killed off-duty, dragged from his car alongside his two teenage sons and nephew who were with him. All four were executed with malice and mutilated on April 17, 2011. Both sides have blamed each other, if not with equal credibility. Belated page here. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:33, 20 November 2013 (UTC)


Certain members of the military have been targeted on main highways, and were brutally murdered. Some were also killed, along with their children, such as Brigadier-General Abdo Khodor Tellawi, who was killed on April 17th along with his three children on their way to their residence in the city of Homs. Their bodies were found mutilated (
Dr. Ghassan Tannous, Director of the National Hospital in Homs tells users .. Martyrs' bodies were mutilated and representation by using sharp tools and after the assault shooting scene .. is inhumane .. I have not seen such acts previously.

(In Syrian sources of the day, there is no mention of the man and the boy's sectarian background. In fact just the name made me wonder enough to Google it, finding Daily Star.) --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:33, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Two weeks ago, Gen. Abdo Khodr Tellawi, an Alawite posted south of Homs was killed with his two sons and a nephew. The Syrian state run SANA news agency claimed that “armed criminal gangs … killed them in cold blood.” But opposition activists say that the Syrian intelligence services executed them because they were showing signs of sympathy for the protesters.
  • Account of a Syrian-Australian woman I 'd seen before, on ABC, but couldn't find for a long time - stumbled across this archived copy via Susan Dirgham the other day. It mentions some other crimes, murder, rape, abduction, mutilation, the climate of fear, etc. But regarding the officer and kids, she says:

One of these stories is a very horrible, horrible story. It is about an army officer who was going out on the weekend, a Friday with his two kids, one fifteen, one sixteen, and his brother's son. They were all together in one car; he wanted to take the kids to the school. (Dohar is now telling the story I heard when I was in Damascus in April. I referred to it in a May posting on Pool and in many 'reports' I have written about Syria since then. The officer was the brother-in-law of a Syrian friend of mine. I hadn't been aware of the horrific details of the story. Dohar recounts them.)

Soon after they set off - he had only driven a short distance - the car was sprayed with lots of bullets. There was one boy who was still alive. He had been shot in the legs. (09.44) They took all the bodies out of the car. They took

the boy and 'cut him' until he died. But they put the man's body on the street and drove over his head many times. We saw it on TV, and my sister saw the body. After driving over his head, they mutiliated his body. He was already dead, "Leave him!", but they did that. So a woman lost her husband, her two boys and a nephew. After that, I couldn't sleep at that time. I cried many times. Why did they do that? What did he do? Because he was in the army? (She didn't know he was also an Alawite - state media did not mention that usually) --Caustic Logic (talk) 22:56, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

Other officers killed in the past two weeks include two Christian colonels and another Alawite general. Alawite military and intelligence officers are generally expected to stand with the regime, fearing a bloody backlash against them should Assad fall. But the Alawite community is not a homogenous entity and there are long-standing tensions between rival clans which could see some powerful figures siding with the opposition against the Assads. [1]

Arabic, pictures of the victims alive and video when dead (not filmed in rebel hands this time that I could find). Little useful info, just dramatics about terrorists, blood, and homeland, in part from the man's wife. Videos:

The funeral of Brigadier General Abdo Altilawy & Sons and the role of the martyr Ali 0:43 تشييع العميد عبدو التلاوي وأولاده والشهيد علي بدور


CDV database for Regime forces casualties/otherstatistics - generally meaning rightly-killed members of the repressive Syrian forces - includes these four entries for 4-17-2011 (re-listed in my own order):

As listed, these four are are from "Jib Abas" - Jeb Abbas on Wikimapia, a village to the east of Homs, a bit closer to Mukharram al-Fawqani. --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:20, 20 July 2016 (UTC)

A Sectarian Attack?

The Alawi religious background of Brigadier-General Tellawi isn't necessarily a key feature of his and his offspring's brutal murder. Syrian government or like-minded sources initially made no mention of this basic fact, in keeping with an early policy of ignoring the sectarian aspect of crimes to avoid playing into and worsening the problem - all targets were chosen for supporting the government alone, in SANA and similar reports. Lebanon's Daily Star, in contrast, noted Tellawi was "an Alawite posted south of Homs," whom activists say that the Syrian intelligence services executed," along with his sons, "because they were showing signs of sympathy for the protesters." [1] As for who else was feeling such sympathies for the non-terrorists at this same time, the Star's article dryly noted:

Other officers killed in the past two weeks include two Christian colonels and another Alawite general. Alawite military and intelligence officers are generally expected to stand with the regime, fearing a bloody backlash against them should Assad fall. But the Alawite community is not a homogenous entity and there are long-standing tensions between rival clans which could see some powerful figures siding with the opposition against the Assads. [1]

That is, the rebel story might be true. That non-Sunnis were being knocked off could suggest the Salafist conspiracy Damascus alleged, or - less depressingly for the interventionists - it could show that just a few weeks into protests, even Assad's presumed non-Sunni supporters were getting so antsy to join the clearly non-Salafi protesters that a paranoid Assad felt they have to be murdered with brutal fury to send a signal to all the others who were planning to defect themselves. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:37, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

The "Shabiha" propaganda cycle that would come to pinch Syria's Alawi community, especially in Homs, seems to have few outward signs in the first days of the uprising. But the first weeks at least showed the basic contours being laid down. As explained here, Shabiha were first mentioned in the Baniyas area, causing some chaos, sowing sectarian discord, and killing a cop on March 27, and in Homs by no later than April 21. Khaled Yacoub Oweis of Reuters reported then how residents of Homs had "organized neighborhood patrols after," not before, "21 protesters were shot dead on Monday and Tuesday (18th and 19th) by security police and Alawite gunmen known as 'al-shabbiha'." Helpfully, Oweis explained "Assad's security apparatus, dominated by minority Alawites, has used gunfire and brutality to cow protesters," making these claims seem reasonable. [2] So, reportedly, the Alawite killers took out Sunni/democracy advocates in the days right after the general was killed, as if some tit-for-tat.

The VDC database is less helpful, but the first fatalities listed with Shabiha mentioned in the notes was a driver and passenger waylaid on the highway by these elitist bandits near Baniyas, April 16, 2011. That was the day before the attack on the vehicle carrying the Tellawis in Homs, perhaps by security forces, perhaps in fact Shabiha. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:37, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Mahmoud Issa Arrest

Activist Mahmoud Issa, reportedly a leader of the Communist Labor party, but also an anti-government activist of standing before 2011, was famously detained for his comments after the Tellawi slayings. The Times (UK) reported: "Mahmoud Issa was detained after an interview on Tuesday (the 19th) with the al-Jazeera television news channel, during which he discussed the killing of a Syrian brigadier general." Just how he discussed it, not clear. The Guardian reported:

Rights activist Mazen Darwish said that in the satellite TV interview Issa angered relatives of a Syrian brigadier general who was killed with his two sons and a nephew on Sunday in Homs. ... Issa had told al-Jazeera he didn't know who was behind the killing and called for an investigation, enraging bereaved relatives who reportedly threatened him before alerting police, Darwich said. Issa, who has spent years in prison for his pro-democracy views, was detained shortly afterwards.

Were they angered just by his uncertainty, entertaining the idea that security forces probably killed Tellawi? Activists are said to assert it as fact. A direct quote might help here. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:42, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Rueters reporter Khaled Oweis noted on April 19 - somehow without mentioning the comments or the murder of the general that underlay his arrest, "The Syrian authorities' arrest of a leftist opposition figure overnight suggests that a bill passed by the government to end emergency rule after 48 years will not halt repression, rights campaigners said on Wednesday." Cited was Rami Abdulrahman of the SOHR in the UK, calling the move "reprehensible." [2] However, by Oweis' description, this could almost be a protective maneuver - if not from the slain officer's family, then from ... whoever exactly was massacring certain activists in Homs in those days:

A prominent leftist in the city, Mahmoud Issa, was taken from his house around midnight by members of Syria's feared political security division. Rights campaigners said at least 20 pro-democracy protesters had been shot dead by security forces in Homs in the past two days.

If he hadn't been arrested, would the list of non-Salafist activists killed by "security forces" be one larger? As it was he wasn't shot even when the Communist-friendly authorities had their chance. Mr. Issa was released on June 2, as part of an amnesty deal that freed other journalists too. This article and this PDF are among the few sources mentioning that quieter part of the story. These releases were by presidential decree, issued May 30, for all alleged offenses prior to the next day. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:33, 22 November 2013 (UTC)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mutinies in army could threaten Syria’s survivalDaily Star (Lebanon), April 30, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Syria's Assad ends state of emergency BY KHALED YACOUB OWEIS, Reuters, AMMAN Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:54am EDT Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Oweis2" defined multiple times with different content