Assad regime 'will eliminate its own soldiers' after Tadamon massacre leak, says Syrian opposition
Syrian opposition sources believe soldiers linked to a horrific 2013 massacre committed by the Assad regime in the Damascus suburb of Tadamon, revealed on Wednesday, could be eliminated.
An opposition official said the regime would kill its own officers and soldiers following The Guardian's release of a video of the massacre, which saw dozens shot dead in cold blood.
Footage of the massacre, which was smuggled out of Syria by a defecting Assad regime militia recruit, showed an intelligence officer forcing blindfolded and bound captives to run across a street before shooting them dead and later burning their bodies. A total of 41 people were killed.
"All the officers and soldiers who took part in the massacre will be eliminated by the regime's security officers so they don't give statements about other suspects or officers of leaders responsible for this massacre and other massacres," Adil Qatf, former head of the opposition local council in Tadamon told The New Arab's Arabic language service.
"After the investigation into this massacre was published, the regime will bury the evidence."
Following a long investigation by Professor Ugur Umit Ungor and Annsar Shahhoud from the University of Amsterdam’s Holocaust and Genocide Center the intelligence officer allegedly behind the massacre was named as Amjad Youssef.
Qatf said that Youssef and other officers could be targeted by the regime due to Youssef allegedly confessing to the killings.
"There were dozens of massacres in this area, but it's rare to find a video documenting them and the criminals who committed them," he added.
When the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out in 2011, the Tadamon area became a hotbed of protests and later a stronghold of the Syrian opposition. It is now once again under regime control.
Qatf told The New Arab's Arabic-language service that the massacre occurred in Daaboul Street, on the rural outskirts of the suburb, on 16 April 2013.
"The location of the massacre was accurately determined," he said. "It was behind the Hasna event hall in Daaboul Street opposite the Othman Mosque, in an unequipped residential block."
"A big pit was dug and a number of people were executed, but it was not determined how many at the time."
"We documented the massacre at the time, but even now we can't identify the victims," he said.
"The video published by The Guardian doesn't show all the victims."
Qatf said that Youssef, the main suspect in the massacre was notorious in the Tadamon area, having served in the regime's National Defence Forces militia, which is accused of numerous atrocities against civilians.
Meet Amjad Yousef, the Syrian officer in #Assad's militia, who committed the massacre in #Tadamon neighbourhood in #Damascus 2013,— Arfat Osmann (@Osmannarfat) April 27, 2022
41 civilians, Blindfolded, handcuffed, were pushed into a mass grave and shot, then burned.#AssadWarCriminal pic.twitter.com/v6sRHf2BrX
Many massacres in Tadamon
He added that many other massacres had been committed in the Damascus suburb.
"This isn't the first massacre to happen in the Nisreen and Tadamon districts south of Damascus. Many other massacres happened in the same areas, and in one of them five rotting corpses were dumped near the Hasna hall," he said.
"There was another massacre behind the Hasna hall where 15 people were killed and another near the Zubeir Mosque in Tadamon, and yet another which was discovered later in 2014, in a cellar in a regime-controlled area."
Qatf said he believed the remains of the 41 people executed in the massacre revealed by The Guardian were still in the area, noting that the regime had "completely destroyed the area".
More perpetrators identified
Abdul Nasser Houshan, a member of the opposition Syrian Legalists' Association told The New Arab's Arabic-language service that the alleged main perpetrator of the massacre, Amjad Youssef, is 36- years-old and from the village of Nab' Taieb in northwestern Syria.
He said the other alleged perpetrators in the video were Najib Al-Halabi, a 38-year-old member of the National Defence Forces living in Tadamon but originally from Suweida in southern Syria; Fadi Saqr, the head of the NDF in Tadamon; Saleh Al-Ra's; Jamal Khatti; and Hikmat Ibrahim.
"This horrific crime is not an exception to the series of crimes committed by Assad's forces. Really, its part of a systematic policy designed to clear Damascus from its Sunni inhabitants, particularly in mixed areas… and areas with many security headquarters and military units," Houshan said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and many of his close associates are from the country's Alawite minority. They have been accused by the opposition of deliberately ethnically cleansing members of Syria's Sunni majority in order to alter the country's demographic character.
More than half a million people have been killed and up to 11 million displaced internally or externally since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.