Syria Today: A Mass Killing in Hatla?

Damage in Marjeh Square, Damascus (SANA)

Photo: Scene of Tuesday’s double bombing in Damascus

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On a Tuesday with little movement on the political and military fronts, the headline was taken by a double bombing in the centre of Damascus that killed 14 people and wounded 31.

An official said two suicide bombers detonated their explosives in al-Marjeh Square near the Police Department.

The attack was the second in the area in the commercial and historical centre of the capital. On 30 April, a car bomb killed at least 13 people and wounded 70.

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Footage From Tuesday of Qa’qaa Brigade “Hunting Shabiha” In Hatla

In the wake of reports — as yet unconfirmed — that Syrian insurgents killed as many as 60 Shia Muslims in the village of Hatla near Deir az-Zor, the Associated Press report an interview with an activist based in Deir az-Zor who said that the attack was motivated by revenge following a Monday assault by Shias from Hatla who killed four insurgents.

AP quoted the activist as saying that around 150 Shiites from the village fled across the Euphrates River to the government-held village of Jafra.

Video evidence shows that there have been attacks on pro-government activists or fighters from insurgents in Hatla over the past days. This video shows a group of insurgents from the al-Qa’qaa Brigade in Deir Ez-Zor “hunting Shabiha” in Hatla on Tuesday June 11.

The Qa’qaa Brigade has been named previously in connection with executions of pro-Assad supporters. The video is linked here, with a warning that it is very graphic.

Kuwaiti Activist Praising Mass Killing In Hafla

The video below shows a man, named as the Kuwaiti activist Shafi Ajmi, praising the killing of Shia Muslims in Hatla, Deir Ez-Zur.

Crowds hold anti-Hezbollah banners, which call the Lebanese party the “Party of Satan” and say of Hezbollah that “they are the losers”. It is not clear where the video was taken.

The caption to the video says that Ajmi is rejoicing in the slaughter of “al-Seyed Hussein and his Son”.

This appears to be Ajmi’s Twitter account.

MPs in Kuwait have alleged that Ajmi has helped raise money via social networking sites to send weapons to fighters in Syria.

Ajmi’s Twitter account includes requests for donations for Syria.

Syrian Military’s Missiles Hit Lebanese Town

Lebanese security officials have said that a Syrian regime helicopter fired three missiles on Arsal in northern Lebanon, with one of them hitting the centre, on Wednesday.

An Al Jazeera correspondent said one person was wounded in the attack.

Footage From Killings In Hatla, Deir Ez-Zur

In the wake of news of a purported mass killing of Shia Muslims in the village of Hatla near Deir Ez-Zur, more video footage has emerged.

The video below (warning for graphic images) shows corpses of men purportedly killed in the attacks. The group posting the video blames the mass killing on “descendants of the swine Abu Jahl” a reference to Amr ibn Hisham, a Meccan polytheist hostile to Mohammad and the early Muslims.

The video — published on YouTube by a pro-Assad group — shows what appear to be Islamist fighters who say that a massacre was carried out by non-Syrians, possibly from Kuwait. The video caption says the killings were carried out by a terrorist gang of “revolutionary swine.”

Another video claims to be of residents celebrating the cleansing of Hatla from Shia “shabiha” (pro-regime militia):

Video: Syrian Islamist Insurgents Attack Shia Village of Hatlah

The video below shows a group of Syrian insurgents converging on the Shia village of Hatlah near Deir ez-Zur in Eastern Syria.

Map showing the location of Hatlah.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that “thousands” of insurgents took part in the attack and that 60 Shia villagers were killed. However the video shows only a small group of armed men, named as the Mut’aa Brigade. The number of deaths is not confirmed. Some of the insurgents in the video wave Islamist flags, and the caption says that they are “cleansing” the village of “Raafidis” — a Sunni slur for Shia Muslims.

Journalist Darwish Wins Human Rights Prize

Detained journalist and human rights activist Mazen Darwish, President and founder of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, has is one of the three winners of the 2013 Bruno Kreisky Prize For Services To Human Rights.

Previous winners of the award, named after an Austrian politician, include Nelson Mandela, former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Yara Badir, Darwish’s wife, received the prize on his behalf. With and four of his colleagues, the journalist was accused of “promoting terrorist acts” before the Anti-terrorism Court in Damascus.

Austria Begins Withdrawal from Golan Heights Peacekeeping Force

Austria has begun withdrawing its 378 troops from a 1000-strong United Nations monitoring force on the Golan Heights between Syria and Israeli-occupied territory.

Vienna decided last week to pull out after firing wounded two UN peacekeepers, amid recurrent clashes between insurgents and regime forces in the area, including a battle for the Quneitra border crossing.

A group of 20 Austrian soldiers entered the Israeli zone through the crossing on Wednesday. About 50 more troopswere to be withdrawn during the day, sources on the ground said.

Austrian Defense Minister Gerald Klug said the pullout of Austria’s soldiers on the Golan would take between two and four weeks. A top Israeli government official said Tuesday that several dozen Austrian troops had already left the mission’s headquarters. Israeli public radio said they were administrative staff.

The United Nations is trying to persuade Austria to slow down its withdrawal. Japan and Croatia have also taken out forces in recent months.

Reports: Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Killed “Defending Shrine”

Iranian media are reporting the deaths of several members of the Islamic Revoutionary Guards Corps in the Syrian conflict.

Ali Asqar Shanaei, Mehdi Khorasani, and Hossein Attari are said to have died while supporting the “defenders of the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine” in south Damascus.

Last month, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, justified the involvement of his fighters in the Syrian conflict by invoking the defence of the shrine. Hezbollah’s men subsequently played a key part in the Syrian regime’s capture of the strategic town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border.

Iranian media reported that a fourth Guards member, Amir Kazem Zadeh, was killed in an explosion while fighting “terrorists, ,but did not specify the location.

The Revolutionary Guards have said they are providing logistical and advisory support for Damascus, but have denied the involvement of their troops in fighting.

(Cross-posted from Iran Today — Hat tip to Iran Tracker of the American Enterprise Institute)

The Fight for the Mennegh Airbase near Aleppo

This video claims to show the Syrian military’s Colonel Mohammad Khadour recruiting men from Zahra and Nubl to defend the Mennegh airbase near Aleppo.

Mennegh, the last major base of the regime in Aleppo Province, has been under sustained attack for months by insurgents. Opposition activists claimed on Tuesday that part of the airbase had been taken by opposition fighters; a Syrian military official denied the assertion.


The Local Coordination Committees claim that 147 people were killed on Tuesday, inlcuding 62 in Damascus and its suburbs, 27 in Aleppo Province, and 19 in Deir Ez Zor Province.

The Violations Documentations Center records 63,393 deaths since the start of the conflict in March 2011. Of the dead, 48,868 are civilians.

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Joanna Paraszczuk
Joanna Paraszczuk is EA WorldView's Managing Editor. An Israeli journalist, she covered Iran and the Arab World for The Jerusalem Post. Previously, she lived and worked in Russia and Ukraine. Joanna speaks fluent Hebrew and Russian and reads Persian and Arabic.


  1. Iran and the Syria Conference

    “A perpetual, and perpetually misguided, American notion about international negotiations is that sitting down to talk constitutes some sort of reward for the party on the other side of the table—a reward to be bestowed only in return for good behavior. This notion may be involved, even if only indirectly, in the curious U.S. resistance to participation by Iran in the prospective international conference about the conflict in Syria. Perhaps the resistance has more recently lessened; on Tuesday the deputy Iranian foreign minister commented in Moscow that Iran had received a “verbal invitation” to attend the conference, without specifying who had extended the invitation. We should hope that the verbal invitation will turn out to be a firm one.”

    • Given the overt and covert role of Iran in Syria we shouldn’t invite them to the table. I wouldn’t sit down with Russia either. Their primary objective is not to end the fighting. It is to keep Assad in power. Of course they want to talk now because they think Assad is winning. I would indefinitely postpone the talks and give better weapons to carefully vetted rebel factions in response to the intervention by Hezbollah and their master Iran not to mention the sophisticated weapons Russia is still giving Assad. It is incredible to think that Russia and Iran could condemn others for providing weapons to groups in Syria given their own role in helping out Assad. You always hear them call the opposition “foreign-backed militants”, but you never hear them say “foreign-backed dictatorship”. The murderous Assad regime has received far more foreign backing than the rebels even when their soldiers committed massacre after massacre. It’s a joke. It’s incredible that they dare to criticize others while they themselves launch an intervention to prop up a tyrant.

  2. Zaid Benjamin ‏@zaidbenjamin 9m

    #BREAKING: Over 60 people most of them Shia killed by Kuwaiti backed brigades in Hatla east of #Syria half of them under 18 years old

    soo much for mostly “shabeha” “assads thugs”.

  3. For my Syria roundup today see:

    Currently the site shows one lead post and three sub posts. I posted an additional one containing five items a few minutes ago. Among other things it contains news of a huge defection in Deir Ezzor (many sources) and a video of rebels actually examining a wierd-looking drone they brought down today.

  4. There seems to be an awful lot of triumphalism coming from our enemies in Syria. I just wonder if this is their “mission accomplished” moment. Do they think the gulf arab countries are really going to allow the rebels to be defeated militarily which would boost Iran’s already robust expansionist policies in the region? They need to be brought down to Earth in a big way. If not for humanitarian reasons right now would be a great time to retaliate against the mullahs and Hezbollah for the role they played in killing American troops in Iraq. Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard members in Syria are legitimate targets. Even more so given the role they are playing.

  5. This is a war against the Arab kings and their Wahabbis and other non humans. Assad is fighting the good fight…. killing Arab backed ISIS and other terrorists.

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