New Syria investigation reveals planned and coordinated attack and crimes against humanity on a massive scale, ten years on
- Team of Syrian investigators expose heinous crimes committed by Syrian regime and allied forces during one week in Daraya in August 2012
Ten years on from the week Syrian regime and allied forces killed more than 700 people, including children, in Daraya, a town famous for its peaceful demonstrations, a team of Syrian investigators launches a new report which details the atrocities committed against civilians, including 72 hours of door-to-door summary executions.
The report by the Syrian British Consortium is the first in-depth investigation into the planned and coordinated attack ten years ago, based on witness accounts and open source intelligence. It exposes how Syrian regime forces launched a systematic attack against the civilian population of Daraya between 20 August and 26 August.
This began with indiscriminate shelling of residential neighbourhoods and the deliberate targeting of hospitals, before Syrian forces and their allies, including Hezbollah and Iranian militias, advanced into the town on foot and launched a series of mass executions across Daraya, killing entire families, including women and children, and large groups of men. Over 700 people were murdered, and hundreds more were detained or forcibly disappeared -- many of whom have not been heard from since.
Dr Yasmine Nahlawi, lead investigator at the Syrian British Consortium said:
“Brave witnesses that we spoke to recounted killings, bombardments, detention, and looting and shared vital photo and video evidence. Their determination to set the record straight is met with utter failure from global institutions to pursue justice and accountability for war crimes in Syria.
“We want the world to know the truth about what happened a decade ago. This investigation must not sit untouched in a UN database.”
Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in 2011, Daraya has been a symbol for peaceful protest. Its citizens marched the streets with roses and handed out bottles of water to soldiers. Its residents and survivors of the massacre are now living across Europe and the Middle East, determined to secure justice and accountability for their loved ones.
A witness who helped bury those killed in Daraya in August 2012, said:
“We used an excavator to dig trenches which were the same size as a bed with a depth of 70cm. Some bodies were mutilated. Shooting was on the head and neck. There were many children. It was a terrifying sight to behold.”
Hanan Allakoud, a former resident of Daraya, now based in Germany said:
“Ten years on and anger still burns inside of me, because of the trauma. I remember we were sheltering in a basement; I knew my parents were being bombed and that people nearby were being killed. My children were playing around me, and I was looking at them thinking they could die at any moment.”
Sulaiman AlAbbar witnessed the immediate aftermath of an execution of 80 people in Al-Saqqa building. He said:
“The floor was covered in blood. People were laying on the floor, all either shot or slaughtered. I was in a state of shock. I started to gather the shoes of the dead. Shoes of women, children and men.
“Healing can only start when the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice. Now, people can’t heal and they can’t go back home. Assad is still in power, still committing massacres with no consequences or repercussions.”
You can also watch the the recorded discussion of our report with SBC's lead investigator, key witnesses and experts: