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.
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.
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.
تجهيز المجاهدين من داخل سوريا ٧٠٠ دك ويمكن أن تتعاون العائلة الواحدة على تجهيز المجاهد فيساهم كل فرد بخمسين دينار وكذلك أهل المسجد يتشاركون
— د شافي العجمي (@sHaFi_Ajmi) June 12, 2013
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.
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):
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.
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.
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 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.
Iranian media are reporting the deaths of several members of the Islamic Revoutionary Guards Corps in the Syrian conflict.
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.
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.