Syria Interview: Fact and Fiction Over ISIS “Massacre of Civilians” in Deir ez-Zor


PHOTO: Islamic State fighters in Raqqa, June 2014

On Saturday, Syrian State media began spreading the claim that 280 civilians were killed and 400 abducted when the Islamic State attacked two districts of Deir ez-Zor city in eastern Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also circulated the figures without any supporting evidence.

Pro-opposition activists denied the reports, saying that about 15 regime militia had been killed in the ISIS attacks on Ayyash — which they still control — and al-Bughayliyah.

Even though a Syrian “field commander” also said the abductions report is untrue, the Syrian Foreign Ministry wrote the UN today with the claims.

See Syria Daily, Jan 18: Islamic State Captures Large Weapons Depot in Deir ez-Zor City
Syria Daily, Jan 17: Claims — Islamic State Kills Scores of Civilians in Deir ez-Zor in East

Syria Direct spoke on Monday with Abu Zeid Abdullah, a journalist with the pro-opposition Sound and Picture, about the reports. Currently in Idlib province, Abdullah is in contact with Sound and Picture’s correspondents in Deir ez-Zor city.

Q: How are civilians doing right now in the areas where clashes are happening? Al-Bughayliyah specifically?

Civilians who are still inside the village are in the midst of panic. They fear that death might come at any moment as a result of the regime’s indiscriminate bombings of roads and crossings.

There are injured people still in their houses, to say nothing of the fact that a number of houses were destroyed by heavy bombing from Russian warplanes.

Q: Some media outlets are reporting that the Islamic State kidnapped 400 people in al-Bughayliyah. Is this true?

We’ve denied previously that this is true. It isn’t. What happened was that families tried to flee from al-Bughayliyah, and IS picked them up and sent them to Raqqa. They sent the young men off to sharia courses. About 20 families were subjected to this treatment — so the total number is around 60 people.

There were also arrests and executions that targeted members of the NDF and other regime militiamen and supporters, around 15 men total. IS arrested a number of civilians in the town of al-Bughayliyah, including traders, charging them with smuggling food into regime-controlled areas. This is all that happened in Al-Bughayliyah. The talk about 400 people is extremely exaggerated.

Q: What’s the actual number of civilians who were killed during the fighting? Some media reports say that more than 150 inside Al-Bughayliyah?

That is incorrect. Today, the number of dead from the battle reached around 100. The dead are made up of NDF fighters who were killed during the battle, or when IS stormed the village. A number of regime soldiers were captured and executed yesterday night in the a-Sheikh Yassin neighborhood of Deir ez-Zor.

As for civilians, IS executed two in Al-Bughayliyah after charging them with working for the regime. There were around 15 civilians killed because of the Russian airstrikes, and the regime’s shelling of the neighborhood, including 10 people from two families. Women and children were among the dead.

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  1. Looks like the Machiavellian position is that the regime wished to wash its hands off DeZ and hand over to ISIS, just like it handed over Palmyra, and therefore had to stage a huge massacre / battle – like as if it tried to defend the place in earnest against ISIS, and make it look like ISIS managed to win the battle through overwhelming force and through terror.

    This way ISIS can better defend Raqqa and northern Aleppo against the Americans/Kurds/FSA.

  2. Theres are no power to stopped the mujahideen until they reach baitulmuqaddis.Assad army look like a rookie and no match to fight mujahideen.SAA always show thier asses and run away like coward.Coward deserve humiliation and they proved it in many2 battlefield.Your friend drunken russi is busy mutaah wit yr women and got no time 4u.Putinist luv to see the headless of assad army.

  3. Deir Ezzor Update:
    1. Yesterday IS released women and children of the families of Baghilia neighborhood but kept the men in custody for investigation and to make them join religion courses.
    Heavy airstrikes in and around Baghilia town, where IS using heavy mortars.
    16 civilians killed and dozens of wounded primarily from airstrikes at al-Nour Mosque and Aslah area in Buleil town, including a fuel store hit.
    Several air-strikes around military airbase and renew targeting Bagheiliyah neighborhood. Also one on Jazeera University, with damages to the building.
    Furat al-Sham Hotel was greatly damaged by ISIS VBIED.
    Source – Local Coordination Committees in Syria
    2. Leith is staying optimistic, as several advances in SAA position have been achieved:
    3. Prognosis: Today and tomorrow are forecast to be fine weather for flying around DeZ, with sunshine and light, intermittent cloud, so with sustained CAS it can be expected IS positions will take considerable punishment and be further repelled, much to the chagrin of the NATO-cornfed conspiracy theorists [names withheld to protect the naïve] who ludicrously claimed this has all been another cunning plan by Assad to gift the airbase and city to his secret ally, Al Baghdadi.

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