Syrian Army "sweeps" Tartus as opposition documents massacre

May 3, 2013

By Ahmed Kwider

Regime forces continued operations in the coastal Tartus province Friday as multiple reports of a civilian massacre surfaced and pro government SAMA TV aired pictures of army operations in the area around al-Beyda.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Friday posted reports of summary executions by government forces and shabiha in al-Beyda, documenting at least 51 killed.

Local resident Moataz, who requested his full name be withheld due to fears of retribution, claims three times as many civilians were murdered.

“We still don’t have a total death toll, but activists have documented 150 names so far," said Moataz.

“Some corpses belonged to people who used to support the regime. That means the killing was sectarian and random. It also means those who executed these people were not official security, but members of the regime’s shabiha. Some people recognized some of those shabiha as Alawites from Banias,” added Moataz who was imprisoned by the government for six months last year for aiding and abetting the rebels. [Read the fascinating full article here].

“There were cumulative reasons for the regime’s brutal military campaign and systematic killing," said Moataz. "In the beginning of the revolution, people protested in the main square of al-Beyda village."

The pro-regime Samaa satellite station broadcast this report on Tursday from Tartus province. The reporter describes an army operation in Tartus province it says targeted “terrorists,” but failed to mention the deaths of at least 51 and up to 150 civilians in the operation. Video courtesy of Samaa TV.

Pro-regime television SAMA reported that the Syrian Army unit seized two arms and ammunition warehouses in Tartus province containing machine guns, rocket launchers and advanced communications equipment.

According to SAMA, “the road linking Tartus, Banias, Latakia and Homs is [now] open and safe.”

On Thursday, the channel aired a field report by correspondent Haytham Yousof from the outskirts of al-Baida village.

“Sniping and firing continues between the Syrian Arab Army and some gunmen who have hidden near the mosque’s mineret," said Yousof.

“The Syrian Arab Army is now among the houses. They swept the area and the village,” said the reporter.