Activists in Dara’a province on Friday said that human remains were found buried under a house in the town of Qarafa. They said that they believe the remains are of detainees who were summarily executed by regime forces back in 2014.
According to the activists, the house belongs to Hussein al-Saleh and was one of three houses which were used as prisons by militants operating under the command of late security chief Rustum Ghazala. It is believed that regime forces blew up the houses while the detainees were inside.
Smart news network quoted local sources as saying that militants of former Head of the Political Security Directorate Rustum Ghazala buried the victims in a mass grave they dug under the house. The sources added that up to 25 bodies of detainees from Qarfa, including women, were buried in the mass grave.
The sources noted that the owner discovered the remains while he was removing the rubble of his bombed house. Once the news of the discovery spread in the town, regime forces sealed off the place and prevented the owner of the house from carrying on with the removal of the rubble.
Despite the so-called settlement agreement which was forced on the people of Dara’a in July 2018, very few people returned to their homes in the town of Qarafa for fear of reprisals by the Assad regime.
Qarfa is the birthplace of Rustum Ghazala who formed paramilitary groups of militants loyal to the regime. These groups, which were later dubbed Rustum’s Shabeeha, were involved in summary executions, arrests, explosions and demolitions of houses of dissidents, their families and relatives. The first summary execution by Rustum’s Shabeeha was carried out against members of the Khatib family in June 2013 and claimed the lives of three men and a girl who were executed inside their house in Qarfa. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
As many as 416 civilians were killed across Syria in May, mostly in the ongoing bombing campaign by the Assad regime and Russian forces in northwestern Syria, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said. The victims included medical personnel, members of the civil defense, and detainees who died while in custody.
In a report released on Saturday, the Monitoring group said that the Assad regime and its allied militias carried out systematic attacks on Syrian civilians.
According to the report, regime forces killed 269 civilians, including 51 children and 48 women, while the Russian forces killed 45 others, including 17 children and 10 women in the ‘de-escalation zone’ in northwestern Syria. The region has been subjected to intensifying bombing campaign in recent weeks.
The militia of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is responsible for the deaths of 21 civilians, including six children, the SNHR said, adding that 73 civilians, including 28 children and three women, were killed by unidentified militant groups.
The victims included four medical workers who were killed in attacks by regime forces and a civil defense volunteer who was killed in a Russian airstrike.
According to the report, 14 people were killed under torture, including 11 who were in the regime forces’ custody, and two who were incarcerated by the PYD militia.
The Network also said that it counted 12 massacres in May, defining the word ‘massacre’ as any attack claiming the lives of at least five unarmed people. Regime forces were responsible for nine massacres, the Russian forces for two, and the PYD militia for one.
The Network stressed that the Assad regime violated the International Humanitarian Law, the Customary International Law, and UN Security Council resolutions, especially resolutions 2139, 2042 and 2254.
The report indicated that the international anti-ISIS coalition forces and the PYD militia violated the Customary International Law by causing civilian casualties.
The report pointed to a marked increase in the number of victims of the military operations the Assad regime and Russian forces are carrying out in the ‘de-escalation zone’ in northwestern Syria. It warned that these operations would cause a new humanitarian disaster. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary of the Syrian Coalition’s Political Committee, Riad al-Hassan, said that Russia and the Assad regime are to blame for the atrocities taking place against civilians in the ‘de-escalation zone’ in northwestern Syria, adding that these atrocities constituted war crimes under the international law and international humanitarian law.
Hassan pointed out that the Assad regime forces with the support of Russia violated all international resolutions related to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need as well as the resolutions related to the political process, the cease-fire, the release of detainees, and most importantly the ‘de-escalation zone’ agreement. He noted that all that is left of the agreement is Idlib province and the adjacent parts of the provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Lattakia.
The Russian jets taking off from Hmeimim and regime jets are bombing exclusively civilian areas, such as public markets, civilian homes, hospitals and civil defense centers, Hassan said. He added that these attacks have killed hundreds of civilians, including children and women, as well as destroyed dozens of vital civilian centers and healthcare facilities.
Hassan pointed out that the regime's intentions to recapture Idlib have become known to everyone, warning of a repeat of the scenario of Aleppo, northern rural Homs, eastern Ghouta and Dara’a. He added: "Every time the regime uses terrorism as a pretext to bomb civilians. In Syria, there is certainly no terrorism that surpasses the terror of Assad and Russia as is being evidenced by the gruesome photos and videos coming from Idlib.
Hassan reaffirmed the Coalition’s support for the Free Syrian Army to defend Syrian civilians in view of the international community's failure to stop the Assad regime and Russian deadly attacks against civilians.
Moreover, Hassan praised the Turkish efforts to bring military operations in the region to an end as he called on the international community to support Ankara’s efforts. He said that these efforts would have "more positive results than working within the UN Security Council.
Spokesman for the Russian presidency has announced his country will carry on with the offensive in the de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria. He pointed out that these attacks will continue until they ensure an end to “attacks on civilian targets where the Russian military personnel are present, including the Humeimim army base.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)