A protester shot in the head in Lattakia, on March 27.
One of our Observers in Damascus has sent us this audio recording, featuring a man who presents himself as a member of a special unit of the Syrian security forces. The man, who goes by the pseudonym of “Abu Hussein”, describes the orders he and his colleagues received before they were sent to crush anti-government protests around the Syrian capital on April 29.
According to our Observer, the recording below was made on May 3 in Damascus. The sound of the voice has been modified for safety reasons.



For the English translation of this audio recording in Arabic, read the comment below.
Abu Hussein explains that he was sent as part of a force charged with repressing a protest in Barzeh, a suburb north of Damascus. He says he belongs to a special unit that is neither part of the army nor of the police.

Although Abu Hussein refused to speak directly to FRANCE 24 out of fear for his safety, his account is consistent with the evidence found in video footage of the Syrian government’s crackdown on opposition demonstrations.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Ségolène Malterre.

In Barzeh on April 22, a plainclothes policeman shoots at protesters

Video posted by Malconito2003.

"Many videos show protesters shot in the head or chest"

‘Ahmed Syria’ (not his real name) is the Observer who recorded the above message and sent it to FRANCE 24.

On April 29, the scheduled protest lasted only about half an hour because it began pouring with rain, and most people went home [see the video of the start of the protest, below]. As a result, Abu Hussein’s force did not need to intervene as planned.

The previous Friday, however, there was a large protest in which I took part. That day, seven people were killed, according to an official toll, and three are still missing. Security forces and Chabbiha militamen [civilians whom eyewitnesses say are fighting alongside police and soldiers]. I saw a man being shot in the head just 15 metres away from me. Clearly, the shot came from above, and not from security forces on the ground. Half of his face was blown off.

What I witnessed in Barzeh happened in several other cities. For several weeks, many videos showed protesters shot in the head or chest. Abu Hussein’s account just confirms that snipers are enrolled to crack down on protesters.”

“Each army officer was to be accompanied by a volunteer sniper”

My name is Abu Hussein and I’m part of the Syrian Defence Ministry’s special security force.
First of all, I would like to apologise for not disclosing my full identity, as well as for the quality of the sound. I had to take these precautions because of the risk I’m taking by delivering this account.
I would like to direct this message to all Syrians, but in particular to my colleagues in the Syrian armed forces. We know what our orders are, and we obey them without for a single second questioning their lawfulness or the consequences that arise if we enforce them.
I would like to tell you about what happened on April 29, 2011, and the orders we received that day before we were sent to Barzeh, north of Damascus.
We were gathered on Friday morning in front of the police academy, about one kilometre from the city centre. Our group included 200 men from my special security force and about 100 policemen. We were then joined by another hundred or so military troops. I learned after talking to them that they were part of the fourth army division [a section believed to have close links with the Presidential Guard set up by Maher al-Assad, Bashar’s brother]. Among the soldiers, there were five snipers, 15 RPG [rocket propelled grenade] shooters and about sixty men armed with Kalashnikovs.
Once we were all there, the Colonel began detailing our plan of attack. The police would come in first. Armed with truncheons, their role would be to stop protesters from reaching Barzeh’s main square. Afterwards, the Special Security forces were due to join them, armed with sticks and clubs. The soldiers were to come in last. They were ordered to shoot into the air if protesters came within 500 metres of them. They were then ordered to aim for the legs if the crowd came within 200 metres of them. He then specifically ordered that nobody should shoot without being directly ordered to, and should never shoot to kill.
Nevertheless, after the meeting, the officers were pulled aside for a talk with the unit chief. When they returned, one of them told me that the officers of the fourth division had received different orders. Each officer was to be accompanied by a volunteer sniper [usually a member of a militia or a mercenary]. They were also ordered to position themselves in places from which it would be easy to shoot. They were ordered to aim for the head as soon as they saw a protester. Their goal was to terrify people so they wouldn’t leave their houses.
What most struck me after talking with several army officers was the authorities’ clear intention of pitting the army against protesters. Police live with their families, but army recruits live secluded in their barracks, where they are completely brainwashed by their superiors. They are told that the protesters are trouble-making rioters who are manipulated by foreign agents. Soldiers’ families need to warn them that the state is feeding them lies – otherwise their children will have too much blood on their hands.”
A man shot in the shoulder during a protest in Deraa on April 1.  (For more information on this video, click here)

Protests in Barzeh on April 29

Video posted on YouTube by BaronDamascus.