Syrian survivors tell of army attacks

2012-03-01 22:39

Antakya -  Syria's military is routinely using tanks and artillery to open fire on peaceful protests and areas suspected of sheltering rebel fighters, three Syrian civilians said on Thursday.

The rare personal accounts of the brutality by Syrian forces were provided at a Turkish hospital near the Syrian border where the three civlians are among many Syrians being treated for their wounds.

Ahmed Rahal, a 24-year-old farmer, said his left leg was shattered on February 16, when a shell landed among about 6 000 people who were protesting in his village of Kafr Nboda against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"I don't remember how I got here," Rahal said. "But I know I have to go back. My wife and 1-year-old son are still there." He said at least 15 people were killed in the attack and more than two dozen wounded. He said his elderly parents were killed in their house by Syrian troops.

In the bed next to him at Kemal Ataturk University Hospital on the outskirts of Antakya was a heavily sedated man identified as Ahmed Abdul Wahab who had lost both his legs just below the knee.

Two Turkish policemen guarded the room. Journalists were given limited access to the patients and not allowed to take photos or videos.

Rahal's face is pockmarked from fragments he blames on an exploding shell in his village. It doesn't take long before the pain of his wounds, and memories of the violence, overwhelm him.

He speaks in partial sentences and clutches a sheet with his right hand. Soon Rahal covers his face with the sheet and starts crying. A Turkish policeman ushers a few visitors out of his room.

One floor below, Muhammad Ibrahim, 18, and Riad Ibrahim, 24, share a room at the hospital. They say they are not related and they were wounded by Syrian forces in separate areas.

"I was shouting anti-Assad slogans during a protest when a mortar landed," said Muhammad Ibrahim, who identified himself as a popular singer in Kafr Nbuda in Hama province, not far from Homs, one of the hardest hit cities in Syria's deadly violence.

What is left of Muhammad's right leg is wrapped in bandages. His right arm is in a cast, and he urges visitors to come closer and speak louder. "I am deaf on the right ear," he said.

Riad Ibrahim says he was wounded by a shell that hit his house in the village of Afetiya, also in the Hama region. He said the attack came at night when he was the only one home. "The following day more shells fell and a 12-year-old boy was killed," Ibrahim said.

"They shelled for no reason."

Another hospital patient identified himself as Khalid Esheih, a member of the Free Syrian Army, the most potent armed opposition force in Syria. It is made up mostly of Syrian army defectors. Some of its members are based in the Idlib region of Syria near the Turkish border.

In an interview in a parking lot outside the hospital, Esheih, 24, said he left the army and joined the opposition force after seeing fellow soldiers kill women and children in rebel-held areas.

He said he is being treated for wounds he received last month during a fight Syrian forces launched in retaliation for an anti-regime protest that occurred in an area where Free Syrian Army fights were based.

"There were about 40 members of the FSA trying to defend the village," he said. "But how can you defend against Assad?"

  • Michael - 2012-03-02 09:32

    Glad you are having hysterical laughter Freddie! Heartless!!!!

      Fred - 2012-03-02 19:48

      It was actually a belly laugh. Hilarious. DO you have anything meaningful to say, other than to repeat my words?

  • Fidel - 2012-03-02 10:06

    Syria is under state emergency and protesting under these conditions is irresponsible.

      Garth - 2012-03-02 11:36

      So, Fido, by that compassion-less statement of ignorance and naivete you advocate the anti-apartheid protests of the 60s, 70s and 80s, whilst certain sections of the country were under a `state of emergency', were irresponsible.

      Fidel - 2012-03-02 12:32

      The only state of emergency invoked in SA was in the 80s. There's no similarity between what is happening in Syria and what happened in SA. I asked you some time ago what you think would have happened had ANC and APLA guerrillas started shooting anything that resembled authority in their march to the Union Buildings and all you could offer was insult because you had no argument.

      Garth - 2012-03-02 13:21

      'The first State of Emergency was declared in 1960 right after the Sharpeville Massacre, when the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress also were declared illegal. In the wake of the 1976 student uprising, the government widened police powers of detention even without a State of Emergency.' Protests against a government that refuses to listen to the needs of the people. Those same protests met with violence. Similarities? The reason why I did not answer you was because your proposal was one of preposterousness. If they had, we would have gunned them down. But they didn't because they did not have the courage to face us. Stop supporting oppression you hypocrite.

      Fidel - 2012-03-02 13:47

      "If they had, we would have gunned them down." And you call me a hypocrite..........hypocrite!

      Garth - 2012-03-02 14:05

      `Would have' child, would have. Not will, not any more, we have seen the error of our ways. When will you?

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-03-02 14:06

      Syria has spent the last 48yrs under marshal law so a state of emergency really means nothing to them . Comparing SA and Syria is not really comparing apples with apples , the dynamics and world have changed greatly. (Verwoed was assassinated and it did not break down apartheid however Assad stepping down would change everthing in Syria).

      Garth - 2012-03-02 15:47

      @ninjas - If you read the thread with a mind not filled with your own thoughts, you would have read the the gist of the thread was a comparison of `states of emergency' and `protests'.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-03-02 16:31

      Oh Garth , i'm just happy i have my own thoughts. I'm not sure why you think my comment is not related seeing as i said that isn't really comparable which is a opinion on the topic under a massive headline for a article about Syria.

      Fred - 2012-03-02 17:19

      A state of emergency brutally imposed by an UNELECTED regime that's been in power for 48 years and DOESN"T ALLOW SYRIANS THE BASIC HUMAN RIGHT TO VOTE. You're being SO DUMB Fidel. It's almost unbelievable. You're supporting the South African liberation struggle and the UNELECTED Syrian dictatorship doing the same thing as the Apartheid regime in its futile attempts to hold onto power. Wakey wakey!

      Fidel - 2012-03-02 17:57

      Fred, you and your binary world view of "with us or against us" borders on intellectual laziness.

      Fred - 2012-03-02 19:49

      I've never used those words, Fidel. You have, in your stuck state of mind. George Bush is long gone. But you're still there, paddling around in the past. Wake up. Get clear. Further the good, not the dark and evil.

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