Status: 04/29/2022 11:18 am
A previously unknown video shows for the first time a mass shooting by security forces of the Assad regime in 2013 in the capital Damascus – filmed by the perpetrators themselves.
The video, which apparently comes from Syrian intelligence circles and the ARD political magazine Report Mainz leaked documents a total of ten shootings in six minutes and 43 seconds. You can see how people in uniform lead people to a pit dug in a deserted street in the middle of the day.
The eyes are blindfolded with adhesive foil, hands tied with cable ties. People are pushed into the pit and shot – sometimes they are asked to jump and then shot in the air.
Routine execution of the crimes
Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, NIOD, examined the video over a period of two years. They assume that the Tadamon district was the scene of the crime. The shootings took place near a mosque and a wedding hall in an area previously heavily damaged by the regime, says a researcher who asked to remain anonymous.
In an interview with Report Mainz says Uğur Üngör, a professor at the NIOD and an expert in perpetrator research: “Never before have we seen perpetrators carrying out their crimes so clearly. They take the victims, they shoot the victims, they joke with each other and carry out the massacre of helpless victims very routinely out of.”
Uğur Üngör, a professor at the NIOD and an expert in perpetrator research, holds the Assad regime directly responsible for the crimes documented in the video.
Researcher: Assad regime wanted to “clean up” region
The date contained in the video, April 16, 2013, is believed to be correct based on further research, such as interviews with local non-governmental organizations. A total of more than 40 victims are counted. They could have identified the bodies of five people. They were probably arrested beforehand at checkpoints or in their homes.
“I believe this massacre was committed to ‘cleanse’ the border region between the rebels and the Assad regime,” Üngör suspects. According to media and activist reports, the Tadamon district was fought over by both the rebels and the Assad regime between 2012 and 2013.
Two suspects identified
According to its own statements, NIOD identified two perpetrators in the video and spoke directly to one of the perpetrators. Accordingly, it is a member of Department 227 of the Syrian military intelligence service. Numerous reports by human rights organizations have accused this department of systematic violence and torture, for example in prisons.
The man can be clearly seen in the video in several shootings and also has a Facebook page. According to the researchers, personal information and face comparisons clearly showed that it was the same person.
The video shows Assad’s security forces shooting ten people dead.
“I’ve killed a lot of people, I don’t remember how many.”
Report Mainz was able to evaluate conversations and video chats with the man. In it he reported that he had been responsible for a certain front during the war for several years. Literally he said: “I have killed many people. I do not remember how many.” Confronted with the video, the man is said not to have denied that he was the person in the pictures.
A suspected superior and colonel described the secret service employee as a “hero” in another video chat. He also said literally: “We have the right to kill those who attack and destroy our country. Why are you taking them to prison to kill them? I can do that right away on the street. In prison I have to tell them Give them a number, feed them. So they’re a liability to the state.”
“Perpetrators are the Assad regime”
Üngör holds the Assad regime directly responsible for the crimes documented in the video, especially since President Bashar Al-Assad appoints the heads of the secret services. “There are several hierarchical levels between the main shooter and President Assad himself,” he explains. “And there aren’t many. Undoubtedly, the perpetrators not only have a connection to the Assad regime, they are the Assad regime.”
He assumes that the Assad regime systematically recorded such crimes on camera – as evidence that executions had been carried out or, he suspects, to be able to blackmail those involved at a later point in time.
Video as evidence “fantastic”
Several scientists whom Report Mainz who showed the video are shocked by the mass shootings documented in it. The Swiss Carla del Ponte, former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and until 2017 a member of a UN commission of inquiry into the crimes in Syria, said that the video did not surprise her: “It’s everyday life in the Syrian war, it’s incredible [Täter] they’re all proud of what they’ve done, that’s why they film.”
As evidence, the video is “fantastic” and could be a “good basis” for an indictment. “Of course it would be good for Syria if Germany opened an investigation,” said del Ponte.
Carla del Ponte, former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and until 2017 a member of a UN commission of inquiry into the crimes in Syria, sees the video as important evidence.
Federal prosecutor does not comment
The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe, which has already accused several Syrian citizens of crimes against humanity on the basis of the so-called universal legal principle, does not want to comment on request as to whether they are investigating on the basis of the video. A written statement states that the public is informed “regularly only in the event of arrests and indictments as well as extensive searches”.
On request, the Federal Foreign Office writes that with a view to applying the principle of universal jurisdiction, other states are encouraged to “go in the same direction”. The UN Human Rights Council is currently negotiating an extension of the mandate of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Syria. The Syrian Embassy in Berlin has not responded to a questionnaire on mass shootings and President Assad’s accountability.