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Massacres in Syria



  • Between 31 July and 4 August 2011, during the Siege of Hama, Syrian government forces reportedly killed more than 100 people in an assault on the city of Hama. Opposition activists later raised their estimated civilian death toll to 200 dead.[1]
  • Between 19 and 20 December 2011, a massacre occurred in the Jabal al-Zawiya mountains of Idlib Governorate. The killings started after a large group of soldiers tried to defect from Army positions over the border to Turkey. Intense clashes between the military and the defectors, who were supported by other rebel fighters, erupted. After two days of fighting, 235 defectors, 100 pro-government soldiers and 120 civilians were killed.[2]


  • On 27 February 2012, during the 2012 Homs offensive, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 68 bodies were found between the villages of Ram al-Enz and Ghajariyeh and were taken to the central hospital of Homs. The wounds showed that some of the dead were shot while others were killed by cutting weapons. The Local Coordination Committees reported that 64 dead bodies were found. These two sources hypothesized that the victims were civilians who tried to flee the battle in Homs and were then killed by a pro-government militia.[3][4]
  • On 9 March 2012, during the 2012 Homs offensive, 30 tanks of the Syrian Army entered the quarter of Karm al-Zeitoun.[5] After this, it was reported that the Syrian Army had massacred 47 women and children in the district (26 children and 21 women), some of whom had their throats slit, according to activists. The opposition claimed that the main perpetrators behind the killings were the government paramilitary force the Shabiha.[6]
  • On 5 April, the military captured Taftanaz's city center after a two-hour battle, following which the army reportedly carried out a massacre by rounding up and executing people. At least 62 people were killed. It was unknown how many were opposition fighters and how many were civilians.[7][8][9]
  • On 25 May 2012, the Houla massacre occurred in two opposition-controlled villages in the Houla Region of Syria, a cluster of villages north of Homs. According to the United Nations, 108 people were killed, including 34 women and 49 children. UN investigators have reported that witnesses and survivors stated that the massacre was committed by pro-government Shabiha.[10] The Syrian government alleged that Al-Qaeda terrorist groups were responsible for the killings, and that Houla residents were warned not to speak publicly by opposition forces.[11][12]
  • On 29 May 2012, a mass execution was discovered near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor. The unidentified corpses of 13 men had been discovered shot to death execution-style.[13] On 5 June 2012, the rebel Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the killings, stating that they had captured and interrogated the soldiers in Deir ez-Zor and "justly" punished them with death, after they confessed to crimes.[14]
  • On 31 May 2012, there were reports of a massacre in the Syrian village of al-Buwaida al-Sharqiya. According to sources, 13 factory workers had been rounded up and shot dead by pro-government forces.[15] Syrian government sources blamed rebel forces for the killings.[16]
  • On 6 June 2012, the Al-Qubeir massacre occurred in the small village of Al-Qubeir near Hama. According to preliminary evidence, troops had surrounded the village which was followed by pro-government Shabiha militia entering the village and killing civilians with "barbarity," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the UN Security Council.[17] The death toll, according to opposition activists, was estimated to be between 55 and 68.[18] Activists, and witnesses,[19] stated that scores of civilians, including children, had been killed by Shabiha militia and security forces, while the Syrian government said that nine people had been killed by "terrorists".[20]
  • On 23 June 2012, 25 Shabiha militiamen were killed by Syrian rebels in the city of Daret Azzeh. They were part of a larger group kidnapped by the rebels. The fate of the others kidnapped was unknown.[21] Many of the corpses of the shabiha militia killed were in military uniform.[22]
  • Between 20 and 25 August 2012, the Darayya massacre was reported in the town of Darayya in the Rif Dimashq province. Between 320[23] and 500[24] people were killed in a five-day Army assault on the town, which was rebel-held. At least 18 of the dead were identified as rebels.[25] According to the opposition, Human Rights Watch and some local residents the killings were committed by the Syrian military and Shabiha militiamen.[26] According to the government and some local residents they were committed by rebel forces.[27]
  • Between 8 and 13 october 2012, during the Battle of Maarrat Al-Nu'man, the Syrian Army was accused by the opposition of executing 65 people,[28] including 50 defecting soldiers.[29]
  • On 11 December 2012, the Aqrab massacre, also known as the Aqrab bombings, occurred in the predominantly Alawite village of Aqrab, Hama Governorate. Between 125 and 200 people were reported killed or wounded, only 10 confirmed as dead, when rebel fighters threw bombs at a building in which hundreds of Alawite civilians, with some pro-government militiamen, were taking refuge from the fighting that had been raging in the town.[30][31] Most of the victims were Alawites.[32]
  • On 23 December 2012, the Halfaya massacre occurred in the small town of Halfaya, where between 23[33][34] to 300[35] people were allegedly killed by bombing from warplanes. Reportedly, the civilians in the city of Halfaya were killed while queing for bread at a bakery.[35] BBC correspondent Jim Muir has noted that it is not conclusive from the video that the building was a bakery. He also noted that despite initial claims by rebels that many women and children were among the dead, of the 23 people identified as dead - all of them were men. Muir added: "it is not out of the question that regime jets managed to strike a concentration of rebel fighters."[33]
  • On 24 December 2012, the Talbiseh bakery massacre took place in the town of Talbiseh. More than 14 people were killed by bombing from warplanes from the Syrian government.[36] The civilians in the city were killed while queuing for bread at a local bakery.[37]


  • On 15 January 2013, government troops stormed the village of Basatin al-Hasawiya on the outskirts of Homs city reportedly killing 106 civilians, including women and children, by shooting, stabbing or possibly burning them to death.[38]
  • On 15 January 2013, twin explosions of unknown origin killed 87 people at Aleppo's university, many of them students attending exams. The government and opposition blamed each other for the explosions at the university.[38]
  • Between 29 January and 14 March 2013, opposition activists claimed that they were able to fish out 230 bodies out of a river in Aleppo, accusing government forces of being the ones who executed the men since the bodies came down the river from the direction of government-held areas of the city. However, Human Rights Watch was able to identify only 147 of the victims, all male and aged between 11 and 64.[39]
  • On 23 March 2013, an alleged chemical weapons attack was carried out in the town of Khan al-Assal, on the outskirts of Aleppo. 25–31 people were killed. Both the government and the rebels traded blame for the attack, although the opposition activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that 16 of the dead were government soldiers. According to the government, 21 of the dead were civilians, while 10 were soldiers. Russia supported the government's allegations, while the United States said there was no evidence of any attack at all.[40][41][42][43]
  • Between 16 and 21 April, during the Battle of Jdaidet al-Fadl, the Syrian Army was accused by the opposition of carrying out a massacre. SOHR claimed that 250 people were killed since the start of the battle, with them being able to document, by name, 127 of the dead, including 27 rebels. Another opposition claim put the death toll at 450.[44][45][46] One activist source claimed he counted 98 bodies in the town's streets and 86 in makeshift clinics who were summarily executed. Another activist stated they documented 85 people who were executed, including 28 who were killed in a makeshift hospital.[47]
  • Between 27 April and 5 July 2013, during the rebel siege of the Aleppo Central Prison more than 120 prisoners were killed. Most died due to malnutrition and lack of medical treatment due to the siege, as well as rebel bombardment on the prison. Some were also executed by government forces.[48][49] On 1 June, during the siege, an opposition activist group claimed 50 prisoners were executed by government forces, while another group reported that, up to that point, 40 government soldiers and 31 prisoners had been killed in rebel shelling of the prison complex.[50][51]
  • Between 2 and 3 May 2013, the Bayda and Baniyas massacres occurred in which pro-government militiamen allegedly killed between 128 and 245 people in the Tartus Governorate, apparently in retaliation for an earlier rebel attack near the town that left at least half a dozen soldiers dead. State media stated their forces were seeking only to clear the area of "terrorists". In all, the military claimed that they killed 40 "terrorists" in Bayda and Baniyas.
  • On 14 and 16 May 2013, two videos surfaced of the execution of government soldiers by Islamic extremists in eastern Syria. In one, members of the groups Islamic State of Iraq and Bilad al-Sham shot dead three prisoners in the middle of a square in Ar-Raqqah city, whom they alleged were Syrian Army officers.[52][53] It was later revealed that two of the three killed prisoners were not Syrian Army officers, but Alawite civilians. One was a dentist and the other was his nephew, a teacher.[54] The other video showed the Al-Nusra Front executing 11 government soldiers in the eastern Deir al-Zor province. That video is believed to had dated back to some time in 2012.[55]
  • The Hatla massacre occurred on 11 June 2013, when Syrian rebels killed 60 Shi'ite villagers in the village of Hatla, near Deir el-Zour. The killings were reportedly in retaliation for an attack by Shi'ite pro-government fighters from the village, a day earlier, in which four rebels were killed. According to opposition activists, most of the dead were pro-government fighters but civilians were killed as well, including women and children. Rebels also burned civilian houses during the takeover. 10 rebel fighters were killed during the attack. 150 Shi'ite residents fled to the nearby government-held village of Jafra.
  • On 18 June 2013, 20 people were killed in a Grad missile attack on the home of Parliament member Ahmad al-Mubarak, who is also the head of the Bani Izz clan, in the town of Abu Dala. Opposition activists claimed that he was killed by government forces. However, Ahmad al-Mubarak was a well-known government supporter and one of his aids was executed by rebels a week earlier.[56]
  • On 22 and 23 July 2013, rebel forces attacked and captured the town of Khan al-Asal, west of Aleppo. During the takeover more than 150 soldiers were killed, including 51 soldiers and officers who were summarily executed after being captured. The incident was considered one of the worst mass executions by rebels in the war.[57][58] Several executions of soldiers in the village of Hara in the province of Deraa were also reported.[59]
  • On 26 July 2013, 32 people, including 19 children and six women, were killed by an Army surface-to-surface missile fired at the Bab al-Nayrab neighbourhood of Aleppo city. The target was jihadist base, however the missile fell short and hit civilian buildings.[60]
  • On 21 August, Syrian activists reported that government forces struck Jobar, Zamalka, 'Ain Tirma, and Hazzah in the Eastern Ghouta region with chemical weapons. They claimed at least 635 men, women and children were killed in the nerve gas attack. Unverified videos uploaded showed the victims, many of who were convulsing, as well as several dozen bodies lined up.[61]
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