Assad's gunmen kill 100 in Sunni village in Syria
By The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Gunmen loyal to President Bashar Assad swept through a mainly Sunni farming village in central Syria this week, torching houses and killing more than 100 people, including women and children, opposition activists said on Thursday.
The reported slayings fueled accusations that pro-government militiamen are trying to drive majority Sunnis out of areas near main routes to the coast to ensure control of an Alawite enclave as the country's civil war increasingly takes on sectarian overtones.
Activists said the attackers were from nearby areas dominated by Shiite Muslims and allied Alawites. Assad and most of the top officials in his regime belong to the minority Alawite sect, a Shiite offshoot.
The events in Haswiyeh, an impoverished farming area on the edge of Homs, unfolded on Tuesday and Wednesday, but came to light only on Thursday as the reported scale of the killings became apparent.
An amateur video posted online showed veiled women sitting on the floor surrounded by children as they described a horrific scene of gunmen killing people and burning bodies.
“They slaughtered members of the same families, then turned the diesel heaters on them,” one of the women said, adding that some homes were robbed of money and jewelry as well. “We did not fight, and we had no gunmen. We are all workers trying to make a living.”
Another video showed a charred room with what appeared to be two blackened bodies on the floor. A man could be heard weeping in the background. The caption said the video is from Haswiyeh.
The videos appeared genuine and corresponded to other Associated Press reporting on the events depicted, although exact details of what happened were unclear and could not be independently verified because of restrictions on independent media.
A government official in Damascus denied the reports, saying no such killings took place in the area and accusing rebels of using civilians as “human shields.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
However, the pro-government daily newspaper Al-Watan reported that Syrian troops advanced in the countryside of Homs “cleansing the villages of Haswiyeh and Dweir as well as their fields” from gunmen. The report did not elaborate.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.