The issue of massacres committed during the Syrian civil war recently came to prominent public attention again with the leaked video footage of a massacre committed by Syrian government forces in the Tadhamun neighbourhood of Damascus city back in 2013. While the details and footage are horrific, it is important that this kind of material be made public for the sake of historical remembrance, and in the hope of accountability and change. Indeed, there has been talk that the Syrian government has been reviewing the Tadhamun massacre, and it is possible that the recent releases of detainees and government decree of an amnesty for non-lethal 'terror' offences have some link with the publicity surrounding it. Even if the latter is not the case, however, there is nonetheless a public interest served in preserving and publicising the memory of massacres, regardless of which side perpetrated them. For instance, I have similarly covered in the past massacres committed by insurgents in Ishtabraq (2015), Qalb Lawze (2015) and Latakia countryside (2013). Of course, there should also be documentation of ongoing violations, such as the hundreds of assassinations in the southern Deraa province since 2018.
As it turns out, nine years have recently passed since massacres committed by government forces in the Baniyas area of Tartous province (which has otherwise seen few disturbances during the civil war). These massacres targeted the village of al-Bayda and the neighbourhood of Ras al-Naba', where there was support for the opposition and insurgency. The memory of these massacres has taken on a highly sectarian dimension, being perceived as targeting of Sunnis for ethnic cleansing by Alawites. It is within this sectarian angle that the following detailed account has been prepared and released by 'Abu Ibrahim al-Shami' of the Telegram channel "Archive of the Battles and Martyrs of the Syrian Sahel" (Sahel means the Syrian coastal areas). Of course, I do not at all agree with this sectarian angle (which is also aimed at the 'Rafidites'- a derogatory term for the Shi'a), but the facts of the massacres should not be denied. According to Shami (both from the report itself and in clarification to me), his account is based on a combination of reports prepared by human rights organisations at the time (Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International), but also his own interviews with local insurgent group leaders in particular and other witnesses, which give more insight to the circumstances of these massacres. There is also use of open source evidence (including videos from Youtube). Importantly also, the report contains some acknowledgement of massacres that were committed in Latakia countryside in summer 2013 against Alawites (though justifying and praising them as supposedly being in revenge for these massacres).
I have translated the report in full below. I make it freely available.
[Click the link below to continue reading, free access for everyone]: