News24

Deserters denounce Syria atrocities

2011-06-11 15:43

Guvecci - Syrian army deserters who fled to Turkey have told of atrocities committed by soldiers in suppressing anti-government protests, under threat of execution if they disobeyed orders.

Four conscripts interviewed by AFP recounted instances of rape and wanton murder as President Bashar al-Assad's forces combat demonstrations against his regime across the country.

With a blank stare in his eyes, Tahal al-Lush said the "cleansing" in Ar-Rastan, a town of 50 000 residents in the Syrian province of Homs, prompted him to desert.

"We were told that people were armed there. But when we arrived, we saw that they were ordinary civilians. We were ordered to shoot them," said Lush, who showed his military passbook and other papers as proof of his identity.

"When we entered the houses, we opened fire on everyone, the young, the old... Women were raped in front of their husbands and children," he said, giving the number of deaths as some 700, difficult to verify as journalists are not allowed to circulate freely in Syria.

War against civilians

Mohammed Mirwan Khalaf, also haunted by the horrors of a war against civilians, was in a unit stationed in Idlib, near the Turkish border.

"Just in front of me, a professional soldier pulled out his knife and stabbed a civilian in the head, for no reason," he said.

For Khalaf the last straw came when his unit passed through the neighbouring town of Saraqib. A militiaman travelling with them he named as Shabih opened fire on people, he said.

"When they started shooting people, I dropped my gun and fled," he added, claiming that some 25 people were killed in the incident on June 7.

Khalaf's brother Ahmed, who had been called up in another military unit, also deserted after witnessing violence in the city of Homs, north of Damascus.

"After seeing how they killed people, I realised that the regime is prepared to massacre everyone," Ahmed said, looking red-eyed and haggard.

He said that he and some comrades had thought of mutiny but fear made them abandon the plan.

Insubordination


Ahmed claimed the regime posted snipers drawn from the police or the Syrian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia on high points. "When the soldiers do not shoot, they shoot the soldiers down," he said.

The fourth deserter, Walid al-Khalaf, confirmed the perils of insubordination. "We saw six people who tried to flee, our commanders shot them," he said.

Rather than entering Homs on Thursday, Walid al-Khalaf said he chose to escape together with 15 friends.

"I knew that if we entered the city, we should kill many people. We all took different ways [to run away]," he said.

When asked of the prospects for Syria's future, he said he expected the collapse of Assad's regime.

"All the soldiers are stressed out. Either they will flee, or they will change sides," he said.

Lousha predicted a more disastrous end. "If necessary, this regime will not hesitate to aim its guns and rockets at Damascus. So it will be all over," he said.

More than 1 200 civilians, including dozens of children, have been killed in the crackdown over the past three months, rights groups say.

Damascus blames the unrest on "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign agitators.

Comments
  • Khalid - 2011-06-11 17:09

    o heavens creator, save my fellow Muslims, may your light enter the hearts of the monsters who do these things and who command to do these things, it is in your power, may they repent before it is too late.

      tryanything - 2011-06-11 19:27

      Its already too late...

      slg - 2011-06-12 03:29

      Good one Khalid

      zaatheist - 2011-06-12 05:17

      Not going to help any begging the invisible magic man in the sky. Prayer - how to do nothing and still think you are helping.

      Kameomaua - 2011-06-17 21:58

      I support you in your prayer, Khalid. May God's mercy protect the innocent people in Syria and eliminate the wicked whose hearts refuse to soften and become human.

  • BernieK - 2011-06-11 23:13

    This is very bad.....

  • slg - 2011-06-12 03:30

    Barr, Rordnas, what say you of this? A Western plot against you and all Muslims to steal the non-existent Syrian oil?

  • Mmoledi - 2011-06-12 12:34

    That is the tricks used by dictators in order to hold on power, use of violence and killing of innocent people and children.Where are super powers of this world? why cant they act like they are doing in Libya in order to stop more deaths in Syria.The likes of Russia, USA,France and Britain not including China because it is also the same as countries ruled by dictators so China is the same as all countries under dictators,it is a one party state that is why they are also supporting North Korea because they are the same birds of the same feathers flock together.

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-06-15 22:09

      Also, the USA and FRANCE/rest of Europe really don't WANT to touch Syria, since it has a close partnership with Iran, and they do NOT want to get into a fight with those crazies.

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