The mainstream and respected newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has published additional details to bolster its original groundbreaking (but ignored) story that the massacre in Houla was not carried out by Syrian government forces but by the rebels seeking to overthrow that government. The new FAZ report is in German, but thankfully our friends at the Moon of Alabama website have translated several of the most relevant parts.
The MoA site points out the very important fact that this journalist is not some greenhorn with an axe to grind. As MoA writes:
The author is Rainer Hermann who studied and speaks Arabic, Turkish and Farsi. Hermann also has a PhD in economics and wrote his thesis about the modern Syrian social history. He currently lives in Abu Dhabi and has been reporting from the Middle East for over 22 years.
Here are the parts of the FAZ report translated by MoA (fuller translation link below):
10:12 am on June 16, 2012 Email Daniel McAdams
“The Houla massacre was a turning point in the Syrian drama. There was great worldwide outrage when 108 people were killed there on May 25, among them 49 children. Calls for a military intervention to end the bloodshed became louder and the violence in Syria has since steadily escalated. Based on Arab news channel and the visit of UN observers on the following day, world opinion almost unanimously blamed the regular Syrian army and the Syrian regime’s Shabiha militia for the massacre.
“In the past week and based on reports from eyewitnesses the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung put this version into question. It reported that the civilians killed were Alawites and Shiites. They were deliberately killed by armed Sunnis in Taldou, a town in the plains of Houla, while fierce fighting between the regular army and Free Syrian Army was taking place at checkpoints around the village. Our report was taken up by many media outlets worldwide and was rejected by many as implausible. We have therefore to ask four questions: Why did the world opinion so far followed a different version? Why does the context of the civil war makes the doubted version plausible? Why are the witnesses credible? What other facts support the report?
“…The homes of the three families are located in different parts Taldous. The members of the families were targeted and killed up to one exception. No neighbor was injured. Local knowledge was a prerequisite for these well-planned “executions”. The AP news agency quoted the only survivor of the family Al Sayyid, the eleven year old Ali, as saying:. “The perpetrators were shaved bald and had long beards.” This is the look of fanatical jihadists, not of the Shabiha militia. The boy said he survived because he had pretended to be dead and smeared himself with the blood of his mother.
“…The following sequence of events can be reconstructed: After the Friday prayers on May 25th more than 700 gunmen under the leadership of Abdurrazzaq Tlass and Yahya Yusuf came in three groups from Rastan, Kafr Laha and Akraba and attacked three army checkpoints around Taldou. The numerically superior rebels and the (mostly also Sunni) soldiers fought bloody battles in which two dozen soldiers, mostly conscripts, were killed. During and after the fighting the rebels, supported by residents of Taldou, snuffed out the families of Sayyid and Abdarrazzaq. They had refused to join the opposition.”