Militants can be seen destroying a grave of a brigade commander in the FSA who was killed in 2014. (Twitter)

Assad’s regime forces destroy and dig up graves near Idlib

With the support of the Russian Air Force and Iranian-backed terrorist militias, the Assad regime forces are continuing their operations in Idlib, with the aim of obstructing the return of refugees to their homes.

Assad’s regime forces and the militias loyal to them are accustomed to carrying out violations against civilians in the cities they enter, but this time even the ones who have passed away did not escape from their attacks.

Militias of dictator Bashar Al-Assad were filmed desecrating the graves and exhuming the bodies of opposition and those affiliated with them, circulated in a series of videos on social media over the weekend.

In one video, the Assadist fighters – reportedly from the infamous Shabiha militias which have fought for the regime since before the Syrian revolution – were seen hitting and destroying the gravestone of a senior opposition figure named Muhanna Ammar Al-Din, before starting to dig into the grave.

One of the regime’s “Shabiha” says, demolishing the graves: “Look, I promised you, I said that I will come to their graves and I fulfilled my promise to demolish the graves, now I will do the same to their bones.”

In another video, a “shabiha” entered a village resident’s house and set it on fire. Other footage shows the entire graveyard and its contents destroyed. One video shows the regime fighters holding skulls of opposition fighters and civilians and mocking them. The graveyard is located in the town of Khan Al-Sabil in southern Idlib, by the strategic M5 highway which the regime and its militias recently captured. 

Besides the crimes against humanity animals also weren’t able to escape the crimes of Assad’s forces. A video shows a militiaman burning a dog alive.

In response to the videos opposition forces released a video showing a Sunni evolutionary fighter at a Shia graveyard in the town of Al-Foua and Kafriya saying: “We can destroy your graves and dig them up, but this is not from our morals, nor from our customs and from our religion.”

The regime’s destruction of the graves comes amidst the ongoing bombardment of the country’s north-western Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold.

Policy of concealing evidence

As part of the policy of concealing all the evidence that condemns it, the regime of Bashar al-Assad, in late April of last year entered Ghouta, where the chemical massacre was carried out in Douma 7/4/2018, soon after Assad’s forces entered Eastern Ghouta, they transported bodies to an unknown location, while the rest was buried in the cemetery of the old city. In order to hide evidence of the massacre that led to the displacement of the city’s rebels towards the citizens of northern Syria.

From the cemetery before its exhumation (AP)
From the cemetery before its exhumation (AP)

In the areas controlled by the Assad regime violations such as blackmailing families, taking people’s homes and properties or exhuming graves in order to hide their local crimes, specifically the chemical massacres in Zamalka and Douma. The towns of Eastern Ghouta and Moadamiyyat al-Sham were hit by rockets loaded with chemical gases, which killed more than 1,400 people on the dawn of August 21, 2013.

Idlib burns

On Saturday, Assad’s regime army took control of the entire city of Saraqeb in Idlib, which is the meeting point between two international roads linking several provinces.

Since Assad’s regime-Russian offensive began, regime forces have taken control of dozens of cities and towns in Idlib and Aleppo countryside, most notably the city of Maarat al-Numan, south of Idlib, the center of the province.

Before the government forces entered it, the city of Saraqeb was deserted due to the massive wave of displacement that it witnessed as the attack approached and people fled.

The military escalation pushed 586,000 people to move from the escalation areas in Idlib and Aleppo towards areas not covered by the bombing near the Turkish border, according to the United Nations. This wave of displacement is among the largest since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011.

Displaced Syrian women and children, who fled from southern Idlib, gather around a fire in Afrin, Syria [Khalil Ashawi/Reuters]

The attack also resulted in the deaths of more than 300 civilians, according to an observatory’s count. Dozens of medical facilities have been closed, and the United Nations confirmed attacks on infrastructure.

The province was declared a de-escalation and safe zone after an agreement was struck between Turkey and Russia in September 2018, however that was violated by both the Assad regime and its ally, Russia when they launched the campaign to recapture the area in April last year.

With much of the country having been returned to Assad hands, and consequently many of the citizens being subject to its suppression and torture once again, Idlib has long been in Al-Assad’s sight. However throughout last year, the regime made little progress in recapturing it from the opposition until Russian ground troops and Iranian forces got involved, helping Al-Assad advance into much of the province to capture many cities. Since the beginning of Assad’s campaign there have been numerous ceasefires set up which all have been violated, primarily by the Assad regime and Russia.

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