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There has been another horrific massacre taking place in Haswiyeh, Homs over the past several days and there were the 80 plus students slaughtered at Aleppo University.

Every time I call the massacre of another hundred civilian "Breaking News," I have to hear from Kossacks that say I'm crying wolf. And every time I report on another Syrian government slaughter, I hear from Kossacks who's first reflex is to blame Assad's opposition.

So in this diary I want to echo the sentiments of Rabbu Shmuley Boteach, writing in the Huffington Post yesterday:

Does Anyone Give a Damn About Syria?

Posted: 01/16/2013 10:51 pm

It's hard to believe that every day the news reports have Syrians dying like flies and noone seems to give much of a damn. The report yesterday that 80 students were blown to smithereens was particularly galling. They were studying at their University in Aleppo when, apparently, death rained down from the sky, either through a missile or a bomb. One image had a female hand with a pen still in it, dismembered from the rest of her body. She apparently died while doing school work.

I was a Rabbi at a University. If 80 students had died in a military attack it would have shaken the foundations of the academic world. Professors everywhere would have condemned this violation of the sacred halls of academia. But in Syria it's just another day of indiscriminate slaughter.

The United States is the world's strongest nation with the loudest voice. Can't President Obama speak out? I know we're not ready to invade Syria or impose a no-fly zone. Americans don't have the stomach for another war, or an invasion. But does that absolve us from simply condemning the slaughter in the strongest possible terms? What would it cost, in blood and treasure, for President Obama to fly up to New York and address the United Nations with a simple declaration: "President Assad, I'm here today to tell you that the long arm of international justice will catch up with you. Today you're a brutal dictator killing men, women, and children in order to stay in power. But one day, in the not too distant future, we will catch up with you. You will be arrested for crimes against humanity and tried for your butchery and mass murder. It may not happen today or tomorrow. But I assure that you one day, in the not too distance future, in the dead of night when you least expect it, it will happen. Soldiers of civilized nations will apprehend you and take you to the International Court of Justice at The Hague where you will stand trial before the world for your cruelty. And you will be held accountable for your appalling crimes." More...


For my answer to why Obama doesn't speak out see Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad.
Graphic images below the fold.

The Telegraph is reporting it:

Families burnt and hacked to death in fresh Syria massacre

By Ruth Sherlock, Antakya
4:54PM GMT 17 Jan 2013
Entire families have been burnt or hacked to death in a small farming village in central Syria, activists have reported, in a grim manifestation of the sectarian hatred fomenting within the country.
Syrian opposition sources from Homs said loyalist militiamen backed by government troops swept through the hamlet of Haswiyeh just north of the city, torching houses and slashing victims to death with knives.

The Britain-based opposition group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said "whole families were executed", with one family losing up to 32 members, including women and children.

The death count of the attack, which was said to have started on Tuesday, varied from 32 to more than 106. Youssef al-Homsi, an activist based in Homs, said at least 100 people were killed, including dozens of women and children, and sent The Associated Press a list of 100 names said to have been killed, including 15 women and 10 children.

This newspaper is not able to independently verify these reports. On Wednesday a government official in Damascus rejected any government role in the alleged killings, and said, "the army protects civilians and their properties."

The area around Haswiyeh was the scene of heavy fighting earlier this week between troops and rebels, who have retained control of several neighborhoods in Homs. Waleed al-Fares, an activist in the area said that most of the victims were Sunnis and that many of the attackers came from the nearby village of Mazraa, which he said is predominantly Shia.  More...

Don't hold your breath waiting for the so-called anti-interventionist Left to protest this.

They're only opposed to weapons going to those opposed to Assad, not to the delivery of Russian cluster bombs to Assad. But don't dare call them pro-Assad. That won't do!

From Reuters we have this news release:

Russian ships to pick up munitions on way to Syria

By Thomas Grove
MOSCOW | Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:38pm EST

Two Russian ships heading for a naval exercise off Syria this month are picking up munitions on their way to the Syrian port of Tartous, news agencies reported on Thursday.

Russia has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main foreign protector during a 22-month uprising against his rule and is its biggest arms supplier. It leases a naval maintenance and supply facility at Tartous that is its only military base outside the former Soviet Union.

A Russian General Staff source told the Itar-Tass news agency that the landing ship Kaliningrad had docked at the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk to pick up munitions and another landing ship, the Alexander Shabalin, was due there for the same purpose.

It was not clear who the munitions were for, however.

"It's possible that the ships are delivering some kind of munition for the Syrians, (or) it's possible that they are carrying it to the Russian (naval base)," said Andrei Frolov, a naval expert at the Moscow-based military think tank CAST.

"(If it's for the Syrians) it's unlikely to be something new. But it could be some parts for weapons systems. Possibly they are delivering munitions of some sort that were repaired in Russia."

The Defense Ministry declined to comment on the reports. More...

Fri Jan 18, 2013 at  1:22 PM PT: Once again EAWorldView has the most in depth coverage of this latest massacre:

Syria Feature: Who Carried Out the Mass Killing in Haswiyeh?

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 7:19 | James Miller

Latest updates will be placed at the top. Click here to jump to the original article below.


1650 GMT: I've just finished a long conversation with ITV's Bill Neely, where we compared notes between his observations and BBC's Lyse Doucet's own reports.

Neely says that both reports seem similar. However, Neely has clarified many aspects of his report which I will summarize below:

Hasiyweh (here on the map) is a village primarily made of Sunnis. According to Neely, the river divides the village, half of which the rebels control and the other half of which the military controls. The rebels use the orchards and nearby homes to attack the Intelligence Headquarters to the east:


View Reported Massacres in Hama/Houla in a larger map

He says that the village has become host of refugees who have fled other parts of Homs, and it is a mix of people, including rebels.

Neely says that he talked to people away from the soldiers, and they made a compelling case. They said Jabhat al Nusra did this.

However, in another video used by Neely, a woman said she did not know who did this. That video, interestingly enough, has now been used by both Assad supporters and Syrian activists as evidence of what happened in Haswiyeh.

Neely points out that there is no hard proof either way. Men dressed in black, wearing a headband that says "Allahu Akbar," is hardly a positive identification. Jabhat al Nusra has not been seen, to our knowledge, wearing such garb, but it's possible. It's also possible that Al Nusra has been framed. Neely suggests that there are Syrian rebel groups who hate Al Nusra and may want to make them look bad. Others suggest that Lebanese men, perhaps from Hezbollah, could have just as easily attacked the village to frame Al Nusra. One thing is certain, however, there is more evidence of larger numbers of Hezbollah working in Homs than Jabhat al Nusra, though some Al Nusra sympathizers are certainly present. Still, despite the contradictory and compelling testimony of both sides, Neely maintains that there is no hard evidence as to who is really responsible - and we agree.

The video of Neely's film is viewable here:


Eyewitness report after Huwaisa deaths from ITV News on Vimeo.

There is an interesting twist to Neely's video report - the men who were reportedly captured by the soldiers had an AR-15 or M-16 rifle, an American rifle (though one that is readily available on the market). Such weapons have been very rarely used by Syrian rebels, are are not standard issue of the Syrian Army. Again this is circumstantial evidence, and inconclusive at that, but it is interesting that the men were captured with a weapon that is both rare and so iconically associated with the United States. If someone were framing rebels, rebels whom the regime claims are supported by foreign powers, this would be the weapon to plant.

Neely's work here is compelling. So is Doucet's. So are the detailed claims from the syrian opposition that run counter to some, but not all, of the reports carried by these reports from residents of the village (which is now heavily occupied).

We agree again. 24 hours after the first reporters have made it to the town, and there's still no hard evidence that gives us even a hint of the truth.

1452 GMT: The BBC has written up Doucet's observations, but there is a very important point that we didn't see in her public tweets - a resident, away from the soldiers, has pointed the finger at the regime for the crime:

Soldiers who escorted the team to the area said hundreds of men from a militant Islamist rebel group, the Nusra Front, committed the killings.

One woman told the BBC the same.

But out of earshot of the official Syrian minders, another woman said the army was present at the time and that some soldiers even apologised for the murders, saying others had acted without orders.

That testimony matches accusations on activist websites that this was the work of pro-government militia known as Shabiha.

We're trying to contact both Neely and Doucet for clarification of the two reports.

This is why Neely's work was so important yesterday (see my full explanation here). His report did not exclude the possibility that there was more to this story. Also, in my writing last night, I raised the possibility that the identity of the attackers may have been confused, depending on who saw them. An activist who claims to have spoken to residents who have fled the area (we haven't verified this claim) said that the attackers were Lebanese. It's possible that the attackers were meant to look like Jabhat al Nusra, a theory which would bridge the reports from both Neely and Doucet.

This is still speculation. However, if regime soldiers have always had control of the village (another claim coming from multiple sources) then how would Jabhat al Nusra infiltrate the village, conduct such a massacre, and still be able to leave?

Without further investigation it is still noteworthy that all the claims reported by Neely, and many of those reported by Doucet, still point the finger at Jabhat al Nusra. But Neely reports that all those testimonies were given in front of soldiers. Did those soldiers cherry-pick who was going to talk to Neely and Doucet, or did they intimidate the witnesses?

Neely has just given a quick response:

1435 GMT: The BBC's Lyse Doucet has reached Haswiyeh, and has the following updates:

This report is far more gruesome than what Neely said he had witnessed (we're asking him about this now), and suggests that house-to-house raids were conducted.



Below is the original article.

Three days ago rumours began circulating of a "massacre" in the villages of Haswiyeh, just north of Homs, as well as dozens killed in Houla to the west of the city. These claims came at the same time as confirmed reports of heavy shelling of Homs, as well as cities to the north such as Talbiseh and Al Rastan.

See Tuesday's initial coverage, which includesmany links to videos and claimed eyewitness claims.

A problem was immediately apparent. The claims made by some activists included beheadings, knife attacks, and summary executions. But the evidence did not show any of this. Instead, it was obvious that the villages had been heavily bombed, likely by aircraft but possibly by tanks and artillery, and the reports of knife-wielding shabiha and bodies hanging in trees were exaggerated.

On Thursday this summary was posted on the "Homs Up-to-Date" Facebook page:

Reports emerging from Husweyeh massacre behold such intolerable pain of an extremely appalling massacre committed against 13 families according to eyewitnesses. The village is located near AlQusour district and is about 5 kilometers away from Homs city center [to the north of the city]. Husweyeh's families are well-known for being farmers; the village has a population of about 1,500 civilians only and recently had more families settling in from disaster-stricken areas and invaded districts, such as Deir Ba'lbeh district and else. The village includes Sunnis, Christians, and Alawties, but the massacre is proven to be purely driven by sectarianism since all the families massacred are Sunni families only....

On Tuesday, 15/1/2013, the regime's military security forces entered the village 12:00 p.m. [Syria time] and arbitrarily arrested a number of men, amongst them martyr Abdul Haseeb Deyab, Imam of Al Tayyar mosque in Husweyyeh village. At 1:00 p.m. [Syria time], some of the detainees got released. At 2:00 p.m. [Syria time], 2 buses {well-known by civilians for being used to drive Shabiha (thugs)}, 4 other security forces buses, and 2 armoured vehicles arrived to the area and parked near Al Boushi factory for ceramics.

The military security forces spread...

Afterwards, some young men were extrajudicially executed in these houses then burnt in one house, which is the house of Abu Mashhour Shehab Deyab. They then moved into Al Ghaloul orchards and executed all the men, women, and children their found there from Al Ghaloul family. Third station was Al Deyab farmlands, where they also executed the whole family and burnt their corpses. Their last station was the farmlands right beside Al Deyab farmlands, where they killed more than 17 members of Al Mahbani family there.

Few of the young men were able to escape as they climbed on trees and hid in orchards. But the regime's Shabiha (thugs) caught them, executed them and tied them to trees. Most of the eyewitnesses recounts said that the gold women were wearing was robbed after they were disgustingly humiliated whilst others were kidnapped/arrested and no one know anything about them nor about how many are they. House and commercial shops were looted too.

Up until now, 2:30 p.m, 105 martyrs have been documented from all these families executed.


The report also lists the names of many of the dead. Suspiciously, a video that claimed to show the burnt bodies of the victims has been "removed by the user".

Sensational reports continue to pour in, often from high-profile sources like Radio Sawa journalist Zaid Benjamin:

And the Telegraph:

Syrian opposition sources from Homs said loyalist militiamen backed by government troops swept through the hamlet of Haswiyeh just north of the city, torching houses and slashing victims to death with knives.

The Britain-based opposition group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said "whole families were executed", with one family losing up to 32 members, including women and children.
The death count of the attack, which was said to have started on Tuesday, varied from 32 to more than 106. Youssef al-Homsi, an activist based in Homs, said at least 100 people were killed, including dozens of women and children, and sent The Associated Press a list of 100 names said to have been killed, including 15 women and 10 children.

Two glaring problems remain. The opposition Local Coordination Committees has yet to mention any massacre, and sufficient video evidence of a massacre has not surfaced.

On Thursday, Bill Neely of Britain's ITV made it to the area. He saw blood and some human remains, but he did not see the bodies to  verify those numbers. Neely did speak to residents of the town who made such claims, and he concludes simply:

I cannot say for sure who did what to whom. But it's clear many people died in Homs. Dozens.

All seem agreed on that. The common figure was around 30. I even got the names of families who had been killed; members of the the Hamza family, the Khoulis and Ghalouls.

The local men I talked to were scared. They had been through something bad. Many had lost loved ones.

Then there is the question of responsibility. In his article, Neely cited residents who said opposition fighters or men in "black uniforms and...Islamist headbands" executed villagers, including women and children.

On Twitter, Neely also raises the possibility that the Islamist insurgency Jabhat al Nusra is responsible:


So what's really going on?

Much of Homs and the surrounding areas are in devastation and disorder after more than a year of shelling, bombing, and gunfire. Those who remain are often Syria's poorest and most helpless citizens, amid the fighters and militia of both the insurgency and the Assad military and supporters. Its villages and neighbourhoods are among the most ethnically- and religiously-divided ghettos in all of Syria. They have also been host to many massacres in the past. Fear, distrust, and tension grow deep.

All that fear and tension is fertiel ground for rumours. Reliable communications travel slower, as many are often afraid to take to the streets, especially when the bombs are falling or the gunshots ringing out.

What facts have travelled tell us that the last three days have been deadly, very deadly, but calling this a "massacre" elevates the deaths above what we have seen elsewhere in Syria, where events have also devastating over the last few days.

And then this admission --- Bill Neely's venture to the area points to who may have been involved in Tuesday's mass killing but it does not establish this with certainty. As is increasingly the case with the violence and murders, this has become a war where We Do Not Necessarily Know.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, Chaddiwicker

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 04:31:18 PM PST

  •  Shmuley Boteach? (4+ / 0-)

    Fraudster, backed by Adelson, nephew ripped off the MIC, etc? LMFAO!!

    WOW.

    Dude you are becoming a parody of...something.

    Here's an antidote for those who are still interested in reality.

  •  Hmm (7+ / 0-)

    Here is the story from ITV (a UK news org) that has a man in Syria. He went to Basatin al-Huwaisa to find out the story.

    Claim and counter-claim surrounds latest Syria 'massacre'

    I travelled to the scene of the mass killing. It is a poor farming area on the edge of Homs, called Basatin al Huwaisa; the orchards of Huwaisa.

    As we started walking through the streets of the village, one or two local men began coming towards us. Later more and more joined them.

    The first story we heard was from a man who said his two brothers had been killed. Fighters had come into the area. They wanted to attack the army, as they had done many times before, he said.

    He gives details of what he is told by civilians and the local governor and provides whatever details he can on what he sees. It's acknowledged that about 30 people were killed (far less than the SOHR claims). He ends his story on a note of caution, noting just how difficult it is to establish the facts. But it's probably a lot easier to establish the facts in Homs than the Telegraph reporting from Antioch (Turkey).

    I'm also sick of you continued cheap shots about Obama's supposed courtship of Bashar al-Assad and your view that anti-interventionists won't protest this loss of life. The course of my life has been personally affected by both the Israeli and Syrian regimes since the mid-1970s.  I have friends and family who were kidnapped, interrogated, tortured and bombed by both Syria and Israel and I know from personal experience that nothing good came from 30 years of foreign intervention in Lebanon. So take your cheap shots and shove them. And you dare quote a Zionist pretending to care about Syrians. How about justice for all Palestinians? You write about the Arab world but you have no understanding of Arab sensitivities, do you?

  •  How's the intervention in Libya going, eh? (5+ / 0-)

    The South a military zone as a civil war grows; an event which inflamed Mali and led to civil war, where France has now intervened (with the US doing what they can to help) and also dropping bombs from the sky (they've already nailed two of the dreaded toddlers/terrorists), which leads to murderous actions in Algeria...

    So, the plan is working, right?

    Half the world's refugees are from conflicts we either started, maintain, or support, and I suppose at least the Dominianists -- those satanists using Christ's name -- are happy as shit that we seem full on aimed at having the ultimate triumph over Islam in a grand and beautiful global war. For Good.

    You know the Muslim world has noticed.

    This whole shit is sick, and our involvement in it isn't helping anyone at all. Except for lunatics in our military/spy establishment and their resource-grabbing buddies in business.

    I look forward to your future diaries seeking to justify the coming shit-storms in Lebanon, Niger, and Chad.

    We've already exacerbated misery (but US-induced misery is the happy, virtuous, sort) in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Algeria, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan going for us, plus we've just sent "advisors" -- Marines, that is -- to 37 African countries. You know, to help them be safe.

    And all this just a prelude to taking on the godless Chinese!

    People like you won't be happy until we help turn the whole world into refugees. Us at home included.

    Also on the plus side is, those refugees who can find work will do it for almost nothing. The Permanent War Against All is a win-win. Well, except for humanity.


    Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

    by Jim P on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 09:22:45 PM PST

  •  Who? (3+ / 0-)
    They're only opposed to weapons going to those opposed to Assad, not to the delivery of Russian cluster bombs to Assad.
    Who is for Russian cluster bombs being delivered to Assad? Citation needed.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 10:16:29 PM PST

  •  Killings perpetrated by both sides of conflict (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, Rusty Pipes, Jim P

    From your supplied link

    The Telegraph

    In private conversations, senior ranking rebel commanders have admitted to The Daily Telegraph that the killings are being perpetrated on both sides.

    If and when Assad is toppled, we can expect an exponential increase in sectarian killings - including between the FSA and al- Nusra as they fight for control. The FSA doesn't have a chance in beating al-Nusra. Just look to the AfPak and Maghreb regions. NATO has been battling these Salafist jihadists for over a decade and have yet to bring them under control. They simply pop up in another area. BTW, we may some popping up in France in the near future.
    Syrian rebels accuse jihadist groups of trying to hijack revolution
    A schism is developing in northern Syria between jihadists and Free Syrian Army units, which threatens to pitch both groups against each other and open a new phase in the Syrian civil war.

    Rebel commanders who fight under the Free Syrian Army banner say they have become increasingly angered by the behaviour of jihadist groups, especially the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra, who they say aim to hijack the goals of the revolution.

    The rising tensions are palpable in the countryside near Aleppo, which has become a stronghold for the well-armed and highly motivated jihadists, many of whom espouse the Bin Laden worldview and see Syria as a theatre in which to conduct a global jihad.
    ...
    "We will fight them on day two after Assad falls," one senior commander told the Guardian. "Until then we will no longer work with them."
    ...

  •  Your link to your previous diary... (4+ / 0-)

    in which you "explain" things (Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad) directs us to a post that rightfully received 1 (ironic) tip and 29 hide-rates.

    Pure bunkum...

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 05:45:49 AM PST

  •  Re the Al-Haswiyah killings (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne

    There is something of a sense of deja vu here with respect to the Houla massacre - we'll have to see if this plays out in the same way.
     The obvious point to make is that Bill Neely's interviews in the village were conducted in the close presence of the army, who seemed to be in control of it: in the one interview where the army was not obviously  present (a woman in her home) the interviewee stated she didn't know who did the killings. More recent interviews conducted by the BBC correspondent suggest that there may be another story to be told here:  "But out of earshot of the official Syrian minders, another woman said the army was present at the time and that some soldiers even apologised for the murders, saying others had acted without orders." http://www.bbc.co.uk/...
    As usual, EAWorldView is following this closely and carefully, and has provided a good review of how things are stacking up so far:
    http://www.enduringamerica.com/...
    As EAWordView's James Miller has said ,quite a bit of information is being collected by outside observers, so it should be possible to cross-check these with the competing narratives in the coming days and at least partially lift some of the fog.

    •  Deja vu wrt Houla? (0+ / 0-)

      You got that right buddy, but not in the way you meant, of course.

    •  If you check Bill Neely's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac, protectspice

      twitter feed, you would find that he denies that he was in the presence of the army or any other minders when he was interviewing the villagers. Hard to lift the fog when you've got the facts wrong.

      •  @Fire bad tree pretty - re Neely (0+ / 0-)

        "If you check Bill Neely's twitter feed,he denies that he was in the presence of the army or any other minders when he was interviewing the villagers."
        I have checked it and he doesn't say that: he says he didn't have a" minder" -which is something different altogether. When pressed by a couple of people over the fact that that he was surrounded by regime people he doesn't deny it: he says at one point "As for "regime people were around"!!! Do U honestly think that would stop me?" (Not sure what that means but it doesn't sound like a denial.)
        At another point he says "if I thought they were not speaking freely I wd hv said that. I do weigh up these things! " In other words he simply relied on his personal judgement that these guys were genuine.
        "Neely says that he talked to people away from the soldiers," Don't know where Neely says this - its not in his video report, the accompanying blog, nor the twitter feed. Anyway its palpably untrue - watch the video. He describes his entry into the  town "covered by an armoured vehicle we walked into Haswiya"; the same armoured vehicle is visible immediately behind the men he is interviewing at 1:10 and 1:16-1:18; when goes into a building to talk to one man there are two people in combat fatigues in the background @1:30-1:33. Perhaps by "away from the soldiers" he meant 10 feet away.
        In the next section where the army produce two hapless guys allegedly with an American rifle they are brought out by someone who is either in plain clothes or wearing a non-military uniform, and there are clearly other plain clothes people (presumably security) around as well. So not an ideal environment for a frank conversation.
        I don't want to slate Neely - as he says, he reported what he was told and its obviously an incredibly diffficult situation. to be working in. But he doesn't try to make his report into something it isn't - and nor should we.

        •  OK you didn't check hard enough (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          InAntalya
          Once again & 4 the last time,we were nowhr near Syrian troops when they spoke.Obviously,that wd mk diffrnc.Anyway,enuf of U
          link

          You quoted what I wrote yet you didn't understand it - he wasn't in the presence of minders/army when he interviewed the villagers. Lyse Doucet was also escorted by the army into the village and interviewed villagers in the same manner.

          You may not want to 'slate' Neely but you do essentially call him a liar and use his video as proof. The situation may be as you say or may be the opposite. Yet you really want a specific outcome out of something that is hearsay and for which we have no substantive proof either way.

          •  @fire bad tree pretty re Neely saga (0+ / 0-)

            These tweets were not up when I reviewed his feed (I may be many things but clairvoyant isn't one of them). I don't know why he said what he did in the one you quote - it was in the midst of a heated exchange in which he's under a lot of fire, so maybe he got confused. We agree that he wasn't in the presence of a "minder"  (to be clear: a "minder" would be someone from Syrian security assigned to him and permanently by his side) but I never suggested he was. You are simply wrong that he didn't conduct his interviews in  the presence of the army - its clear on the video (check my references.) Perhaps he conducted some off-camera interviews that were more confidential, but he hasn't said that.
            "Lyse Doucet was also escorted by the army into the village and interviewed villagers in the same manner."
            Exactly: her video is longer and makes clear the conditions under which journalists were being admitted, which involved army oversight (or at least proximity - the grounds may have been security). She seems to have been able to slip this a bit  and at some point gets told a very different story out of the army's ear-shot: maybe she just got lucky, maybe because she's a woman, who knows.
            I have my prejudices in this matter, sure, but I am as interested as anyone in getting to the truth - I just think that sources and evidence need to be evaluated critically and in context.

            •  Further on Haswiya / Neely (0+ / 0-)

              There are now further tweets from Neely where he states that he conducted other interviews out of ear shot of the soldiers, so that may explain the confusion. And of course he shot 90 minutes of film, of which we've only seen 5.
              "Which women do we choose to blv? Villagers talked 2 me -far away from soldiers-too.Easy 2 blv what we want to blv."Truth" harder"
              But I still see inconsistencies in his accounts.

            •  Not everyone here is interested in getting at the (0+ / 0-)

              truth.

              I think that is the real problem here. They are interested in blowing smoke to keep international opposition from forming up against the Assad regime.

              That;'s why they continue to quote from outdated reports on Houla that support the regimes claims when they have already been throughly debunked by subsequent investigations.

              This is not the mark of an honest intellectual argument.

              That is why they don't write their own diaries on Syria. If these slaughters receive no attention at the DKos, Assad is happy.

              If a diary appears supporting the revolution, they swing into action, muddying the waters in the name of balance.

              They adamantly deny they are Assad supporters but judge them by their actions not their words.

              Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

              by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 09:00:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Do you support the Al-Nusra Front? (0+ / 0-)

                Is the BBC also "blowing smoke to keep international opposition from forming up against the Assad regime"?

                The BBC's Paul Wood and cameraman Fred Scott visited the war-torn city of Aleppo.
                17 January 2013

                You would be much more valuable to DKos if you weren't so emotionally involved and on a veritable crusade for western intervention in Syria. You have even attempted to demonize Obama for his "support of Assad" and "inaction" in arming the Syrian opposition with highly advanced weaponry.

                This is not the mark of an honest intellectual argument.
                You seem to be effectively blinkered on what is occurring with the country and have reduced the conflict to its most elemental terms - black/white, good/evil, with me/against me.
          •  BS, There is a ton of c0ircumstantial evidence (0+ / 0-)

            1.) The slaughter of civilians and the burning of the bodies is policy the Assad regime has carried out in many areas recaptured by the Assad regime.

            2.) al Nusra is trying to win the trust of the Syrian people and they have been successful largely because of their reputation for integrity and caring for the people. They just took over flour distro in Aleppo by popular acclamation.

            3.) The Assad regime blames every massacre, without exception, on terrorist gangs. There charges have zero credibility.

            4.)  al Nursa is the most obvious target for a false flag after Obama proclamation that they are terrorist.

            5.) al Nursa generally takes responsibility for their attacks and they deny this one.

            6.) Only the Assad regime have the air power to conduct that portion of this attack.

            7.) The people slaughtered were Sunni and opposed to the Assad regime.

            8.) It would be very easy for the Assad goons to say they were al Nursa and wear "al Nursa" headbands [ There is an obvious contradiction between the killers widely advertizing they are al Nursa at the scene but not publicly.

            9.) Since the SAA now controls area, it would be very easy for them to plant "witnesses"

            There's much more but I'm short of time.

            Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

            by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:49:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Also if you would check your own links (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac, protectspice

      you would find that they report (in the second link):

      Neely says that he talked to people away from the soldiers, and they made a compelling case. They said Jabhat al Nusra did this.
      so perhaps you should read your own links more closely. They also show that there are many theories, rumours and speculation but lots of doubt as to the perpetrators. Which is what should be reported rather than the partial and partisan dreck we get from this diarist.
      •  James Miller wrote (0+ / 0-)

        James Miller wrote:

        Perhaps a massacre, or an extremely bloody series of airstrikes, triggered jihadis, or residents, to launch revenge attacks. Perhaps this was just a gun battle with lots of collateral damage. Perhaps the government troops present at the scene (a contribution from Bill that I did not know at all) led residents to lie about who the perpetrators were. Perhaps a series of brutal killings was conducted, but both sides had a different assumption about who the perpetrators were. Perhaps just a lot of people died in air and artillery strikes, and scared residents created their own legends.

        The point is, Bill could have walked in and said, "no evidence of 100+ dead, and some residents said it was Al Nusra." His report would have had little value. Instead, he provided lots of data, lots of details about exactly what he saw and who said what when and where.  Or he could have withheld all this information entirely because it perhaps ran counter to a narrative that he would have liked to have propagated. Bill Neely did exactly what he needed to do, and so he gets a major hat tip from me.

        Assad soldiers were on the seen when Neely interviewed them. Maybe he did it out of ear shot of the SAA, that hardly supports the idea that they weren't intimated by those troops and therefore told the truth. Who the hell is Neely to them and how many are willing to bet their lives that what they tell him will remain a secret between the two?

        The people who committed the massacre wore "al Nusra" headbands never seen before and told people they were "al Nursa" so that settles the question of blame, because the Assad forces would never stage a false flag attack.

        Many defectors have said that the Assad regime regularly stages false flag attacks to stoke sectarian violence but who can believe them because they are traitors to Syria and probably in the pay of the CIA.

        Is that how your defense of the Assad regime plays out?

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 03:45:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Work on your reading comprehension (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          InAntalya, Aunt Martha

          There was no defence of the Assad regime in my comment, there was an attempt to get at the facts, something you are clearly loathe to do. Your blockquote (and what I wrote clearly show that there is lots of speculation, rumors etc but not clear evidence. You turn this into clear proof of a massacre committed by the regime. You have clearly lost the plot. The fact that you continue to accuse me of being a defender of the regime (and ignore my direct reply to this diary on this issue) is indicative of your loss of credibility on this issue and your inability to engage with your interlocutors in good faith.

  •  Villagers in Huwaisa don't appear to be afraid (2+ / 0-)

    of the army. They came out of hiding when Bill Neely entered the town accompanied with them. It appears the rebels wanted to use the town as cover for an attack on a nearby military base. This has been a common tactic used throughout Syria since the start of hostilities (it's a very common tactic in asymmetrical warfare as the US military understands very well).

    http://www.itv.com/...
    Bill Neely: International Editor
    Thu 17 Jan 2013
    ...
    I travelled to the scene of the mass killing. It is a poor farming area on the edge of Homs, called Basatin al Huwaisa; the orchards of Huwaisa.

    As we started walking through the streets of the village, one or two local men began coming towards us. Later more and more joined them.

    The first story we heard was from a man who said his two brothers had been killed. Fighters had come into the area. They wanted to attack the army, as they had done many times before, he said.

    It's true there is a military intelligence base near the area, which has been repeatedly attacked.

    These fighters were the men who had killed locals, the men said.

    More men came. Some had not seen each other for days, since the fighting began. Some cried as they hugged men they knew. They shared stories of the dead.

    It became clear many people had been killed in the streets, in houses and in orchards.
    ...

  •  Getting very tired of Claiborne's 'hit and run' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice, InAntalya

    diaries. He makes unsubstantiated claims based mainly on unreliable tweets and unconfirmed reports as soon as there is a whiff of something in his desperate attempts of making "BREAKING NEWS".

    By the time his stories are debunked and the facts ascertained, he has moved on and produced another. Unfortunately the very nature of DKos encourages this.

    It appears that Claiborne is also using DKos as a form of tweet to overcome the character limit of 140. He uses the t.co url shortener combined with hash-tags in his diary header.

    He has already stated that his audience is much larger in the twit world where the ADD'd have free rein.

    Claiborne is like a pimp prostituting DKos.

  •  Jordan may close borders to refugees if Assad (0+ / 0-)

    falls. A fundamentalist or even moderate Islamic takeover in Syria will be problematic for the king of Jordan. The Islamists are currently putting tremendous pressure on the Syrian government as they gain popularity within the country. I think we may see the Muslim Brotherhood taking over in the not-so-distant future.

    Refugees from Syria face further suffering if Jordan closes border
    18 January 2013

    Preventing refugees from entering Jordan to escape the conflict in Syria would increase suffering and could lead to further bloodshed and human rights abuses, Amnesty International said today following the Jordanian Prime Minister’s announcement that the Jordanian authorities would close the border if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government collapses.
    ...
    "At a time when people in Syria may need protection the most, Jordan is effectively threatening to close its borders, further exposing them to harm,” said Charlotte Phillips from Amnesty International’s refugee team.

    “Supporters of the al-Assad government, many from Syria’s minorities, are already facing human rights abuses by armed opposition forces.”

    "If the al-Assad government is overthrown, there is a very real concern that those perceived supporters will be at risk of harm, including reprisal attacks, from armed opposition groups.”
    ...

  •  Video of Al Jazeera reporter getting shot (0+ / 0-)

    He definitely put himself in danger by running across the exposed area following after one of the rebels. When there are snipers in the area this is a sure fire way of getting hit.

    He also is not wearing anything that would signal he is a reporter.

    http://www.liveleak.com/...

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