December 20, 2013
What evidence is there that the massacre in Adra took place?
A lot of this was inspired from Felim McMahon's work on the social media evidence the other day on Open Newsroom
Wikipedia: Adra, Syria
Description from James Miller: Adra is an industrial town, and the populace has largely been anti-Assad, though there are some wealthier districts where public opinion is very mixed. The area also contains a major Assad base. At the start of the conflict, Assad moved additional forces, including several Republican Guard groups and some intelligence offices. Interestingly, those bases were mainly opened in the homes of wealthy pro-Assadists who fled the country, or at least the area, early on.
Islamic Front entered the town of Adra on December 11th (presumably as part of Phase II of the East Ghouta offensive [that's a guess]). On December 13th the government counter-attacked. As it stands, the rebels have held out surprisingly well against government counter-attacks.
Wikipedia lists the confirmed death toll at 36, but that links to a link about the government bombing raids on Aleppo with no mention of Adra. Wikipedia goes on to state: "Syrian military claimed more than 80 people were killed by Islamic rebels, while the Syrian Foreign Ministry put out a figure of more than 100 dead."
SOHR: "Reef Dimashq: 32 civilians have been documented as killed after Jabhat al-Nusra and several other Islamist factions attacked the city of Adra al-Ummaliya on wednesday morning, most of the victims were Alawites, the casualties also include people from other minorities such as Shi'a and Druze,. the dead include no less than 2 children and 4 women. There are reports of dozens of disappeared persons in the city. 1 fighter from al-Nusra was killed by clashes in Adra."
- This official statement does not state how these civilians were killed. But there does seem to be an insinuated causality between the JaN entering the city and the civilians being killed. Also needs to be some clarification on the 'disappeared persons.'
HRW: ""I am afraid we cannot comment at this stage, as our research is still ongoing and it has been very difficult to get accurate information about what is happening in Adra and who is responsible for the abuses," Lama Fakih, the watchdog’s Syria and Lebanon Researcher told RT in an e-mail."
- Nothing to work off of there.
IRC: ""We don't have access to this area and can neither confirm nor deny any information circulating," the ICRC said in a reply to RT’s request for comment."
RT: Russia condemns Adra massacre, calls on world community to react
- "While the Syrian army continues its broad push to get the insurgents out of Adra, RT Arabic has gathered eyewitness accounts of what happened in the town last week, when it was captured by Islamist rebels of the Al-Nusra front and the Army of Islam. Those who managed to flee the violence in Adra and reach Damascus say they saw the militants slaughtering Alawites, Druze, Christians and Shiites indiscriminately. Fearing their interviews might do harm to their relatives still in the occupied town, the fugitive survivors asked not to reveal their identities.One of them told RT that all of the officials in the town were killed "no matter what religious groups they belonged to." "Among them were people who did not support any of the warring parties – neither the opposition nor the government. Nevertheless, they have been abused – they were terrorized and used as human shields," the witness said. There’s no reliable way at the moment to communicate with the people trapped inside Adra, but RT Arabic’s Abutaleb Albohaya, reporting from Damascus, cites the country’s officials as saying that "the atrocities against the civilian population are continuing." "What is happening in Adra is unthinkable," one of the Adra escapees told RT. "Children are being slaughtered and thrown out of the windows. But no one is doing anything. The crisis in Syria continues in an environment where there is no international law, including those relating to the paramilitary operations."
So RT's evidence comes from escapees fleeing Adra who have reported this to foreign news agencies. These escapees have remained anonymous. The use of the term 'witness' suggests that these individuals were present to witness these attacks.
BBC: Syria conflict: 'Islamist rebels' kill Adra civilians
"An attack by Islamist rebels has left at least 10 people dead over the past two days in the Syrian town of Adra, activists and eyewitnesses say. Most of the victims were from minority sects, reports said. State media said on Friday that the army had launched a "broad offensive" in the direction of Adra"
So according to the BBC they're working off of activist (unidentified) and eyewitnesses (plural) accounts. Why are the main stream media so goddamn annoying in linking to the reports their sourcing? Not much I can do with that
Tehran Times: New facts emerge about massacre in Adra, Syria
"People toasted in ovens: What the extremist militants did when they entered Adra on Wednesday morning was a "massacre," a local resident told RT. "The situation was terrible - with killing, atrocities, and fear as the background. Unidentified armed men came into town, but it was obvious that they were Jabhat al-Nusra militants," Muhammad Al-Said said. "The worst crime they committed was that they toasted people in ovens used to bake bread when those people came to buy it. They kidnapped and beat up many," he added. According to Al-Said, the rebels committed the atrocities so they could place blame on government forces. But the resident said that Adra citizens are "waiting for Syrian troops to save us from the terrorists, who came from other countries." "Those, who could, fled to Damascus. Some hid in the basement, with infants, the elderly, women, and sick people among them. The situation was really terrible," Al-Said said."
So here we have an local resident (unclear if he's an eye witness), Muhammad Al-Said, reporting these allegations. What can be made of it?
The Primary Evidence That's Been Reported
Yesterday Felim McMahon asked this question in Open Newsroom: RT report on alleged mass atrocities in Adra, Damascus. What do we know about this? Searching for related content for +Storyful and will post here too.
He found that this pro-government Facebook page reported: Offers a broad progress Syrian Arab Army forces and national defense during the last few hours in the city (Basil Assad) unions in Adra, where it was re-control (9 Jazeera and Al-Jazeera and Al-Jazeera 7 8 down to the bakery and automated station) ... The terrorists killed dozens ... pray for our military forces and national defense in the fight against terrorism, and more kinds of brutal ..
Only thing worthy of note there is that the page was only set up on December 12th.
This is another key source of these claims from a 'anonymous government official':
Opponents militants launched Affiliates Front victory at dawn yesterday, a surprise attack on the town of Adra unions north east of the capital Damascus, perpetrators of a massacre of more than 50 people, according to an official source. The source explained that «a large number of elements came from nearby conscience, and arrived in Adra unions at the fourth dawn». The source continued, saying that «the gunmen surrounded the parents and asked them to go down to the shelters, and carted around 200 people Antqohm according to their sectarian affiliation, and executed a number of them» The gunmen committing a massacre against the people, as it executed a number of staff at the bakery Adra unions, after he took over Tens of tons of flour and flour allocated to the people of the city and the estimated number of martyrs of civilians around the fifty martyrs and sources said the field for the night that the gunmen burned the homes of some government officials in the town, and appeared in the bodies of some of them. She stressed that the Syrian army sent a force to the region to begin the process to restore the town.
What is an "official source"? RT told us that their source was an escapee, does this official refer to the same thing or is there a different source? The source appears to report that 200 people were killed according to their 'sectarian affiliations' but how can that source estimate this number? Also the source then appears to have stuck around til the evening to watch the government 'burned the homes of some government officials'? Would this source have done that after watching 200 people be executed?
As Felim concludes on the evidence: Anecdotal at best. Social media footprint and attribution does not fill me with confidence either. Let's stay on this one though, and maybe widen the search a bit. I think +Christopher Kingdon is looking at the 'Battle of God' vids. They will be here (uploading): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/aqlb5zlldekrhoq/T8GE5vdPR-
/u/RevolutionaryCommie led us on to the face that pro-government pages are reporting the rebels killed babies. This is the photo in question - EXTREME NSFW/ NSFL. EXCEPT /u/MeisterSchlampe debunked this photo and found it's from the Gujarat riots.
Then EAWorldView came out today with the fact that the footage being passed around by Al-Alam is fake:
"Iran’s Al-Alam TV, supporting the Syrian regime’s declarations, is claiming that insurgents killed scores of civilians in the fight for control of Adra, on the Damascus-to-Homs highway northeast of the capital.
However, an observer is noting on social media that at least one of the images (0:18 in the video) is actually from Homs in April 2012. Other images (1:15-1:20) were posted on a pro-regime blog in May 2012."
EDIT: More falsified footage
This photo is also being passed around of three beheaded fighters - NSFW/ NSFL. But as /u/anonymousjk points out, it's old from July - http://puu.sh/5QRAy.jpg
Edit2: Good post on this from @lopforum
Alleged Adra Massacre Collated Media
So far the only primary evidence produced of this massacre on Al Alam and pro-government Facebook pages is fake.
So far the articles on this alleged massacre appear to be based off of escapee accounts, possible eye witnesses (anonymous), the SOHR report of deaths (but not causality) and Mohammad Al-Said (a local resident unclear if he's a witness). The primary evidence produced by Al Alam and government Facebook pages is fake.