April 11, 2013

By Ahmed Kwider

0410SanameenDaraaARActivists said the town of Sanamain was blockaded on Thursday after a massacre that took place the day before, purportedly in retaliation for an increasing number of defected soldiers from the area.

“We have no electricity, no water supply and suffer a huge shortage in basic commodities as government forces blockade us, preventing transportation both into and out of the town,” the Local Coordination Committtee in Sanamain said in a statement on its Facebook page today.

On Wednesday, a spree of detentions and bombardment by government troops resulted in at least 50 dead and scores wounded as town residents refused to hand over defected soldiers and officers under their protection.

Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan boasted success in two operations against “armed groups” that they allege  “assaulted civilians and properties” in the southern town along the highway from Damascus that leads to the Jordanian border.

Sanamain is close to several army bases that have missile batteries capable of striking targets in nearby Israel and Jordan. The town is also known as the site of a massacre in March 2011 when 20 civilians were fired upon by government troops during a peaceful protest.

“The regime is acting to secure its assets in the province,” said a spokesman for the opposition Daraa Media Office who goes by the alias Abu Ammar.

“The Chief of the 9th Brigade held a meeting with city leaders and demanded they turn over defected troops being sheltered in the town,” Abu Ammar said.

The chief threatened to burn down the town if they did not turn in these people, the spokesman said.

Sanamain residents refused to hand over the defected military personnel, activists said. The army then stormed the town, and according to multiple accounts, was joined by shabiha and Iranian Revolutionary Guards in a sweep through Sanamain with civilians “hysterical” as snipers fired from the rooftops.

The LCC-Sanamain Committee called the incident “a massacre with 60 killed, many injured and more than 200 detainees whose whereabouts are now unknown.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 29 civilians and 16 rebels killed on Wednesday, anticipating the numbers to climb “because more than 40 people are severely injured, and there are several people who have been reported missing.”

The Observatory noted “the destruction of more than 10 houses, with more than 20 houses were burned to the ground.”