Civilian martyrs names and pictures displayed at entrance to the village of Shrehi in japanese Sweida countryside. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
21st Century Wire
On the 2nd October 2018, a younger lady’s life was delivered to a brutal finish by a bullet from an ISIS executioner’s hand-gun. Mrs Thoraya Um Ammar was executed on video by the terrorist group greater than two months after she and twenty 5 different ladies and youngsters have been kidnapped from the Sweida countryside, south of Damascus on July 25th 2018.
The pictures circulating of this execution are extraordinarily distressing and we won’t be sharing them in this text. Throughout my current go to to Syria, I visited three of the seven villages that got here beneath assault in the japanese countryside of Sweida Metropolis on that fateful day in July 2018. The grief and anger was nonetheless very uncooked however civilians spoke to me of the bloodshed that was a results of the meticulously deliberate ISIS assault, unhindered by the US Coalition forces camped in Al Tanf, 330km to the East. ISIS entered the villages from the east and traversed huge areas of uncovered desert to take action, apparently undetected by those that declare to wage conflict on ISIS inside Syria.
“The roads of Shrehi ran with blood” H Saab advised me as we stood subsequent to his household house in Shrehi the place 4 of his kinfolk have been murdered by the marauding ISIS gangs. He pointed to the nonetheless seen stains on the street in entrance of us and on the partitions of the home and courtyard.
Street signal to Sweida. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
Our journey started in Damascus. We left early in the morning and headed due south earlier than taking the street that introduced us to the east of Sweida metropolis and to the villages that type a sequence north to south, solely about 1km aside. As we entered the province of Sweida, we started to see the flowery memorials to martyrs killed in Syria’s conflict towards Western-sponsored terrorism. Our information advised us that these lovely monuments are in honour of the troopers who’ve given their lives in defence of their homeland. Many of those lovely buildings are positioned on the entrance to villages “so their names are remembered for eternity by all those that “stay as a result of they died“.
We have been informed that a few of these graves additionally date again to the 1925 ‘Great Syrian Revolt or ‘Great Druze Revolt’ towards France. They’re fantastic to behold, rising out of the dry desert plains, backdropped towards the hills and timber that pepper the panorama stretching out in entrance of us.
Simply one of many many beautiful memorials to SAA martyrs from the Sweida area. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
On the drive right down to the villlage of Shrehi, our information H Saab advised us that thirty-five members of his household had been killed in the ISIS assault that passed off in the early hours of the 25th July 2018. I requested him what he believed to be behind this assault. He advised me that he thought it was to scale back SAA strain on the ISIS terrorists holding out in Yarmouk Basin right now. Maybe to provide them an escape path to the US base at Al Tanf.
Leaving Shahba Metropolis by the East Gate. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
We entered Shahba Metropolis courting from Byzantine occasions and a metropolis modelled on historic Rome – “temples, triumphal arches, baths, a theatre, and a great wall surrounding the city were all built based on the plan of a typical Roman city”. We exited the traditional metropolis by means of the stays of the East Gate and continued on to a variety of cities and villages, some constructed through the Ottoman empire. H Saab informed me that many of those village have labyrinths of caves that run underground beneath the homes.
On the entrance to Shrehi, one of many villages attacked by ISIS in July, we stopped the automotive to go to the poster that had been erected with the names of the martyrs killed through the assault. Younger males, ladies, youngsters, murdered by a terrorist group with a historical past of collusion with the US Coalition towards Syria and the Syrian Arab Military. Acclaimed journalist, Elijah J. Magnier wrote on the time:
“ISIS knew it was possible for its convoy to drive under the eyes of a superpower state (the US) without being disturbed.”
Video footage of getting into Shrehi. Watch:
We drove as much as one of many highest factors in the village of Shrehi to satisfy with the representatives of the village and the survivors of the assault. We entered the normal “madafa”, the welcoming room in the Saab household residence.
Steps main right down to the Madafa in Shrehi the place I met with households of the martyrs and survivors of the assault. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
As soon as contained in the Madafa the story of the assault was advised by Khaled Saleh Saab.
“The terrorists entered the village at 4 am while most of us were still sleeping. We were awoken by the shooting and the cries of ‘Allah Akhbar’. They shot out the lights in the village and there was no moon that night so they worked under the cover of total darkness”
On the best way into Shrehi we had handed a home that had been one of many first to be focused (see video), the mom, father and son have been murdered by ISIS, the daughter was injured however survived. In line with Khaled, 53 ISIS terrorists entered the village and all of them have been ultimately killed by the younger males defending their households and their land:
“We defended our land and our homes because this land is mixed with the blood of generations of our people. We will not accept that people without morals or humanity can touch this land. We stay, we will stand and defend this land until we die. Our youth killed these terrorists even though they had very old weapons, very simple weapons. The ISIS fighters had modern, expensive equipment but we still killed them.” stated Khaled.
Khaled advised us that the clashes continued from four am till 1pm. Between four and 5 am the ISIS fighters took benefit of the sleeping civilians and murdered lots of them in their sleep earlier than that they had time to warn their neighbours.
“The attack was a well planned military operation. ISIS coordinated their attacks in order to paralyse all the villages. They positioned snipers around the villages and along the roads that connect the villages to prevent people moving between villages or coming to the help of neighbouring villages. They came from the south and moved north.” Khaled continued.
In one of many bloodiest massacres of the eight yr struggle in Syria, 270 civilians have been martyred throughout this assault, greater than 300 injured.
“Many of our young men, women and children bled to death in the street. Nobody was able to get to them or to transport them to hospital. If they tried they would be sniped.” Khaled informed us.
Khaled advised us that, in his opinion, most of the ISIS fighters have been on medicine, very more likely to be Captagon. “We fired many bullets into them, but they kept fighting” he advised us and this was confirmed by different relations in the madafa. In January 2017, “at least 137kg of Captagon, dubbed a “jihadist drug” and “the drug of the Syrian conflict,” was seized at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in a primary for France, customs officers stated, including that half of the illicit cargo was destined for Saudi Arabia.” Captagon is a psychostimulant that’s used as a efficiency enhancer by the extremist gangs which have invaded Syria since 2011.
“After we killed the ISIS terrorists, we checked their IDs. They were Chechen, Saudi, Iraqi, Palestinian, Egyptian, Somalian. One was wearing a suicide belt, nothing remained of him after he had detonated it.”
In Shrehi alone there have been 37 civilians martyred. These included Khaled’s mom, father, brother and cousin who have been killed in the house we have been speaking in.
“These groups, all of them, are supported by the UK, US and Gulf States to target and destroy our peaceful towns. Throughout history Syria has sacrificed martyrs and we are ready to sacrifice our souls for our land despite more than 120 countries attacking us with the terrorist groups as their instrument. They should know we will stand and fight to defend our land and our people”
Simply one of many numerous heroes from Sweida countryside – Khaled’s brother, Iskandar Saab had served in the 102 “Batch” of the Syrian Arab Military which had been decommissioned simply two months earlier than the ISIS assault on his house village of Shrehi on the 25th July 2018.
Iskandar got here nose to nose with the crazed ISIS terrorists as he tried to scale the hill main as much as his household’s home. He was shot in his proper leg, his hand and his again. A native graduate of commerce and financial system and a math instructor, Mr Mahran Radi Saab saved Iskandar and managed to take him to his brother Khaled Saab. After rescuing Iskandar, Mahran was shot and killed by an ISIS sniper.
Regardless of his life-threatening wounds, Iskandar managed to get into his automotive and drive 300m beneath hearth from the ISIS snipers who had lined the roads becoming a member of the three villages of Rami, Shrehi and Shebki.
“This land, this property belongs to our blood. It belongs to us. We will never allow any super-power to steal our land or to control our lives, our future” Khaled Saab strengthened this message a number of occasions throughout our speak.
Getting into the house of Ziad Saab and greeted by his daughter Kinda. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
After the assembly we went to the house of Ziad Saab for breakfast, which in Syria interprets into “banquet”.
Ziad’s brother in regulation lived in one of many homes on the entrance of the village, one of many first to be attacked. As quickly as the assault occurred, Ziad’s brother in regulation managed to relay a warning to Ziad who lives together with his spouse and youngsters deeper contained in the village. Ziad took his easy searching rifle and went to assist. As he neared his brother in regulation’s residence, he noticed many ISIS terrorists firing randomly and fierce clashes between the ISIS fighters and civilians. It was nonetheless darkish at this level. Ziad made the choice to return house to guard his personal spouse and youngsters and to take his household to a safer place.
Then Ziad tried to name his brother in regulation. An ISIS fighter answered the telephone and informed Ziad his brother in regulation was lifeless, he advised Ziad to name an ambulance for his circle of relatives members – they might be killed additionally “there will be no escape”. The ISIS terrorists additionally attacked the brother in regulation’s two daughters and their mom – 10 yr previous Hela and 13 yr previous Hala.
As we have been consuming breakfast, a 6 month previous child was introduced into the room. Her identify is Ghala. Her father was murdered simply 100 meters from Ziad’s home, by the ISIS terrorists. Watching Ghala enjoying in the arms of H Saab, it’s painful to grasp the size of devastation and loss that these villages have skilled. A current Fb publish by Syrian, Wissam Sliman places it into perspective:
“Think about that this have been your village, or your neighborhood! Think about that a type of have been your home! Think about that the identical factor occurred to you! Think about that you simply misplaced a member of the family, or perhaps two, or perhaps extra! Think about that your mom, sister, daughter or son continues to be kidnapped and now in the arms of the worst terrorist group ever which is ISIS!
And above all think about that it didn’t imply something to half of your brothers and sisters in humanity in this world,simply because they’re nonetheless sleeping, daydreaming and refusing to get up! What hurts you is that in the event that they did get up 7 years in the past, you’d have had lots of the one that you love ones round you now, however they didn’t, trigger they’re nonetheless refusing to get up!
The reality is as clear as pure water on a virgin Island, there is just one distinction in the case of Syria, the reality about Syria could be very painful and heartbreaking whereas that water on that virgin island…”
The media stories in the West have been a cursory look on the impacts of this ISIS assault upon this group, a skating over of element and no point out of the potential connection to the US coaliton. As all the time, the true victims of this eight yr warfare might be brushed underneath the carpet whereas the main target stays upon the whitewashing of the perpertrators of the crimes towards the Syrian individuals – the “rebel”-washing of the terrorist gangs who’ve been enabled to roam freely throughout Syria by the US Coalition and its Gulf State financiers of the sectarian ideologues described by the Colonial media as “moderates”.
Throughout our conversations, Ziad gave a quite simple message to individuals in the West, notably in the UK. Watch:
A automotive on the entrance to Shbeki village had been focused by ISIS terrorists as it was trying to ferry injured civilians to security. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
A burned out automotive appeared fused to the earth on the entrance to Shbeki. The automotive, a Skoda, had as soon as belonged to Bahjat Atallah Saab who tried to rescue Zahi Jadallah Saab and his spouse and son, Assem Zahi Saab, a regulation scholar. The complete automotive was focused once they tried to flee the ISIS assault on Shbeki that started at 4am on 25th July 2018. The automotive got here beneath assault by the ISIS snipers earlier than being focused by an RPG which turned the automotive right into a furnace from which the occupants didn’t escape. Martyr Bahgat Saab was working as an Arabic language instructor.
This home in Shbeki was taken over by ISIS early on and used as a sniper vantage level. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
The horrific ISIS massacre continued in Shbeki, in reality it intensified. On this village, 60 civilians have been martyred, lots of them systematically picked off by ISIS snipers after they occupied one of many outlying houses set excessive up overlooking the buildings and streets that lay under. The home proprietor was in Lebanon when he heard information of the assault. He rushed house to seek out out what had occurred to his household, he was shot and killed by the ISIS occupiers.
View from the roof of the home used by ISIS snipers to focus on civilians under. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
Video from the rooftop of the home taken over by ISIS snipers in Shbeki. WATCH:
Hazem, a younger scholar in his third yr learning analysis science at Damascus College, acquired a name at four.40 am on the 25th July 2018, when he was in Sweida metropolis. He was informed that his house city of Shbeki was underneath assault by ISIS fighters.
Hazem received in a automotive with 5 of his buddies and tried to drive house, he was being guided by individuals contained in the city who warned him which roads to keep away from as a result of ISIS had arrange snipers alongside most of the entry roads into his village. Hazem entered from the south which was longer however safer. At 5.30 am he was nonetheless unable to enter due to the battles that have been raging between the terrorists and the residents, decided to defend their households and land.
Hazem welcomed us in the normal Sweida Madafa – the welcome room – of his household house. The solar poured by means of the glass onto the gorgeous marble flooring and chairs organized across the sides of the room to offer an area to speak. Hazem recounted the appalling acts of violence dedicated by the ISIS terrorists who had entered the cities from the course of the US base at Al Tanf, to the north-east of Shbeki, Shrehi and Rami..the villages I used to be capable of go to.
Hazem’s testimony was surprising. He advised us that his household was rounded up and brought to what he referred to as the “bedouin house” on the outskirts of the village overlooking the plains and desert that stretch out in the direction of the east and in the course of the US army base at Al Tanf.
The Bedouin home on the outskirts of Shbeki overlooking the plains and desert to the East. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
There, the ISIS terrorists took all the lads outdoors and executed them in chilly blood. Amongst them have been Hazem’s father, brothers, cousin and neighbour. The ISIS fighters then pressured the ladies and youngsters to return outdoors to see the our bodies of their fathers, sons, husbands earlier than they kidnapped them and headed north east with 28 kidnap victims in the direction of Tilal Al Safa.
Hazem confirmed that 60 civilians have been martyred in Shbeki, the bulk from sniper bullets after ISIS fighters took management of homes positioned excessive above the village which enabled them to assassinate the younger males who flocked to defend their households, one by one. Most of those younger males didn’t realise that their hometown was infested by ISIS snipers – simply as in the opposite villages, ISIS had attacked at four am underneath full darkness and whereas everybody was sleeping. As in Shrehi, they shot out all of the village lights throughout their strategy earlier than getting into houses and murdering civilians, together with youngsters, whereas they slept. Hazem advised us that a disabled youngster was beheaded as he lay sleeping in his mattress.
Hazem’s mom had been used as a human defend by the ISIS fighters who pressured her to stroll in entrance of them to stop the civilians firing upon them. She was later among the many kidnap victims though she and Hazem’s sister in regulation managed to flee and returned to the village at night time. They have been terrified that ISIS had taken over the village in order that they slept in an deserted home simply outdoors the village till daybreak once they have been capable of recognise their neighbours and households who had survived and defended their village, stopping complete occupation by the terrorist group.
Whereas we have been speaking with Hazem, a younger boy got here in to the Madafa and lay on one of many chairs. His identify was Ismail, eight years previous. His father was murdered by the ISIS fighters and he was among the many kidnap victims. In the course of the transfer north-east with ISIS, Ismail had managed to mingle with some Bedouin youngsters and escape the ISIS teams, earlier than lastly making it again to his village.
Earlier than we left, Hazem needed to ship a message concerning the remaining 25 kidnap victims, virtually completely ladies and youngsters:
Hazem confirmed us the street that ISIS took with the kidnap victims.
“They took the women and children who were in the Bedouin house by this road. They gathered the other women at the same end of the town next to the graves. All the women were in one place around 8.30 in the morning but they waited a long time before moving them. They took this road to the north. They took them in the direction of the Safa hills which you can see from the Bedouin house. We think they reached the Safa hills after five or six days.”
Path that ISIS took in the direction of Toloul Al Safa. (Photograph: Vanessa Beeley)
I requested Hazem if he was fearful about sleeper cells or additional assaults from the ISIS members. He pointed to the closest SAA checkpoint about 30 km to the north east of the village. He informed me:
“There are big gaps between the SAA checkpoints, around 5km, so yes, we are worried that they may try to come back. It is not considered safe here after dark at the moment. From 5pm onwards the young men of the villages man the checkpoints in readiness for any possible attacks. We will not allow another massacre.”
SAA troopers in Toloul Al Safa to the North East of Sweida the place they’ve been waging a fierce marketing campaign to defeat ISIS.
The SAA have been making big inroads in the world of Toloul Al Safa in the direction of defeating the remnants of ISIS which have taken consolation in the shelter offered to them by the proximity of the US base in Al Tanf.
“ISIS benefitted from the US safety parameter around its military base at al-Tanaf, preventing Syrian and Iraqi armies from breaking into this parameter to pursue ISIS when needed. ISIS took advantage of the US measures and used the area to cross for the north where there is the bulk of its forces.” ~ Elijah J Magnier
At this time, sixth October 2018, Syrian Arab Information Company reported:
“Units of the Syrian Arab Army, in cooperation with the allied forces, on Saturday continued to tighten the noose around Daesh (ISIS) terrorists’ remnants in depth of the rocky cliffs surroundings Tuloul al-Safa, the last stronghold for terrorists deep in Sweida eastern Badiya (desert). The army continues to advance in the depth of the rocky cliffs, comb the caves and the cav”erns in the just lately liberated areas, seizing weapons and munitions left behind by the terrorists, the reporter indicated.”
One of many kidnap victims, Thoraya Um Ammar, has been executed by ISIS, the others await their destiny praying that the SAA will have the ability to attain them and to drive out their ISIS captors. The unity and resilience of the individuals of the Sweida countryside is what has enabled them to outlive the ISIS assault and its traumatic aftermath. As I walked away from the stone “Bedouin” home that had been witness to such bloodthirsty brutality and violence, I noticed a flower stubbornly clinging to the wall outdoors. That is the spirit that has borne Syria by means of this eight yr warfare with such dignity and honour. The will to defend their roots, to stay and to like life.
Vanessa Beeley is an unbiased journalist, peace activist, photographer and affiliate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for probably the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism group. Please help Vanessa at her Patreon Account.
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