AMMAN: One day after regime airstrikes killed more than 100 people in the Damascus suburb of Douma, mourners were forced to place their dead into mass graves as the regime bombarded the city’s main graveyard both from the ground and the air on Monday.
“The regime targeted the cemetery in an organized fashion, forcing many people to delay burials until today,” said Abu Anas, a member of the Douma Local Coordination Council.
“While I was in the graveyard Sunday, the father of a martyr was injured,” recounted Abu Anas, highlighting the danger faced by mourners who braved the bombardments on the cemetery.
One Douma resident went on Sunday with a small group to bury his cousin, killed earlier that day.
“We went on Sunday at 6pm, but the guards warned us about going in because of shells landing on the graveyard,” Mohammed Khabiyah, who works as a moneychanger in Douma, told Syria Direct on Monday.
What Khabiyah and his friends did, he says, was run into the cemetery where a makeshift mass grave already held dozens of bodies.
"Three guys and I volunteered and ran over to the hole carrying the martyr, placed him in, and left.”
"The mass graves are holes, bigger and longer than a grave and can fit 10 martyrs or more," said Abu al-Hassan al-Andalusi, a local activist, told Syria Direct on Monday.
Douma’s “Martyr’s Graveyard” is reserved for those who died in the course of the war, also serving “documentation and statistical purposes” by keeping all those killed in the same place,” said al-Andalusi.
Sunday’s shelling, which activists are calling “The Great Douma Massacre,” resulted in 95 casualties the Civil Defense were able to identify by name, while the identities of another nine dead remain unknown.
As the airstrikes continued into Monday, the rebel United Military Command in East Ghouta ordered civilians to stay indoors until further notice given the targeting of "open markets, public places, and schools."
The airstrikes on the de-facto rebel capital of East Ghouta come after gains in their battle for the neighboring city of Harasta over the weekend, including taking portions of the regime’s Administration of Military Vehicles complex on Saturday.
The extraordinary number of casualties overwhelmed emergency responders in Douma, who lacked the capacity to treat wounded, according to Hassan Ayn, a doctor who volunteered as a first responder on Sunday.
Ayn and other doctors on the scene called for assistance from other parts of the rebel-controlled suburbs, with “40 cars from around the area transporting the wounded to hospitals inside and outside Douma,” said Ayn, adding that several people died due to a shortage of medical facilities able to treat them.
Other emergency organizations were forced to deal with family members unable to bury their dead.
“Because of the shelling of the graveyard, the families of the martyrs brought the corpses back to the Civil Defense base, putting us here in an embarrassing situation,” said Mahmoud Adam, a spokesman for Douma’s Civil Defense.
The space is overcrowded “because of the large number of corpses,” Adam said, citing the “foul smells that the corpses and blood are giving off since we don't have refrigerators."
Syrian state media did not comment on the airstrikes.