SYRIA

In Deraa, dead protesters were stocked in refrigerated trucks

 One of our Observers sent us a particularly grisly video shot in the southern Syrian city of Deraa, a hotbed of anti-government resistance. It shows dozens of bodies rolled up in blankets and stocked in refrigerated trucks. Our Observer says these are anti-government protesters who were killed by security forces. Their families were never allowed to give them a decent burial. 

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One of our Observers sent us a particularly grisly video shot in the southern Syrian city of Deraa, a hotbed of anti-government resistance. It shows dozens of bodies rolled up in blankets and stocked in refrigerated trucks. Our Observer says these are anti-government protesters who were killed by security forces. Their families were never allowed to give them a decent burial.

 

WARNING: THESE IMAGES MAY BE CONSIDERED DISTURBING

 

Video published on YouTube.

 

 

The video was shot late April, when Deraa was under siege by the Syrian army. According to Syrian authorities, the military operation was launched to rid the city of “terrorist elements”. They say the army never attacked peaceful protesters, and claim that that 25 soldiers were killed and 177 were injured in clashes with armed fighters.

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There are no official figures on the number of protesters killed by Syrian security forces, but rights groups say the crackdown has left between 700 and 850 civilians dead across the country. This estimate is deemed plausible by the office of the UN High commissionner for Human Rights.

'Families who wanted to recover the bodies of their loved ones were forced to sign a paper saying they had been killed by terrorists'

Abdullah Abazid (not his real name) is an opposition activist in Deraa. He says he filmed the following video himself.

 

When the army and police attacked Deraa on April 25, they took over the cemetery and turned it into a military camp. As a result, residents were no longer able to bury their dead. Some people were able to bury deceased relatives in their own gardens, but most had no choice but to stock the bodies in refrigerated trucks. The trucks were parked in the neighbourhood of Abassiya.

 

"There were several soldiers among the bodies"

 

There were three trucks in total, containing a total of 114 corpses. The video shows they weren’t only protesters; there were also several soldiers among the bodies. Their identification tags indicate that they come from the 15th division of special forces. These soldiers were killed because they refused to open fire on protesters [this was also reported by former diplomat Ignace Levernier on his blog].

 

Even after the siege was lifted, residents were not allowed to bury their dead. When they left, the army confiscated the trucks and brought the bodies to Damascus. The prefect of Deraa informed residents that the bodies had been brought to Techrine military hospital morgue, and that families who wanted to recover the bodies of their loved ones would have to sign a paper saying they had been killed by terrorists or unknown armed groups. About fifteen families agreed to sign the paper, but most refused. We don’t know what became of the bodies that weren't recovered. As for the soldiers’ bodies, authorities probably used them to ‘prove’ that the army came under attack from Deraa residents.”

 

Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Sarra Grira.