Civilian Deaths and Documenting Shooting Gunfire on Demonstrators in Erbin, in Recent Confrontation in Eastern Ghouta

A Flash Report, May 2017.

Posted on May 17, 2017

Categories : Reports, Special Reports

Footage taken by one of the activists April 30, 2017. The demonstration is marching towards the Army of Islam-checkpoints in Erbin, Damascus countryside.  

Background: On Friday, April 28, 2017, many towns and cities in Eastern Ghouta witnessed a tension that turned to new clashes and military confrontation among several Syrian armed factions. In detail, the “Army of Islam” Jaish al-Islam-  started an offensive on elements and headquarters of “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)” stationed in towns and cities of Erbin, Madyara, Hazzeh, Aftris and al-Ash’ari, in an attempt to eradicate “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)”, a statement attributed to the Army of Islam said.

Yaser Dlwan, the Head of the Internal Political Office in the “Army of Islam” stated to local Media and media activists that “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)” had attacked and abducted a full military convoy, which was preparing a military operation against the Syrian regular army in al-Qaboun neighborhood. Al-Qaboun has witnessed violent confrontations between the Syrian opposition forces and the Syrian regular army.

Concerning the clashes, Dlwan stated, “we tried very hard to release the convoy, but we failed. So we were obliged to address Hai’at Tahrir asch-Scham, formerly al-Nusra Front, to release the convoy.”

Dlwan emphasized that the Army of Islam has no problem with other factions, Failaq al-Rahman- al-Rahman Corps- Fajr al-Umma Brigade and Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya.

 

A statement, released by the Army of Islam April 28, 2017, refers to the attack on and abduction of an Army of Islam-affiliated convoy. Photo credit: the Official Website of Army of Islam

 

A Different Version

On the other hand, Wael Alwan, the Official Spokesman in Failaq al-Rahman, denied and said the news of the attack on the convoy is completely unfounded. He recalled that the Army of Islam has been planning for weeks for an offensive on the Ghouta to repeat the infighting. The Army of Islam assaulted headquarters of Failaq al-Rahman today, April 28, 2017, in Erbin and Kafr Batna, Alwan said.   

Earlier, Supporters of “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)” accused the Army of Islam of commencing the fighting and deploying snipers and checkpoints in Hamouriya, Saqba, Erbin and Hazzeh.

 

A statement by Failaq al-Rahman says the offensive by the Army of Islam on “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)”  is only a pretext to attack headquarters and warehouses operated by Failaq al-Rahman. Photo credit: Failaq al-Rahman twitter account.

 

Details of the Gunfire and Testimonies of Eyewitnesses 

As a result of the intensifying fighting among the factions, which  claimed many civilian lives, and the brunt of the siege imposed on towns and cities of Eastern Ghouta since 2013 by the regular army; activists and intellectuals from all towns and cities of Eastern Ghouta called on demonstrations. The demonstrations aimed to march to the combat zones to demand an end of the fighting. It did set off on April 30, 2017, towards Erbin Square where the military force of Army of Islam is stationed and is also the place where elements of Army of Islam shot the demonstrators. 

It should be mentioned that many locals from Saqba, Kafr Batna, Jisreen, Douma and Hamouriya started a sit-in for more than an hour and a half ahead of marching to Erbin, as the Committee of Demonstrations decided.   

A field activists, who was there at the time, counted 14 wounded demonstrators after the gunfire. Given the danger of the activists’ security, Syrians for Truth and Justice, STJ, withholds the names of the eyewitnesses who reported the incidents.

A.S. one of the activists who was in the demonstration to Erbin, said to STJ:

 “We planned to take our group to Erbin for a sit-in to demand an end of the fighting given the largest force of the Army of Islam is stationed in Erbin. We did converged in Saqba and went towards Hamouriya. We reached a checkpoint operated by Army of Islam in “Farzat neighborhood”, at the beginning of Erbin, then some elements from the checkpoint took out anti-aircraft guns 23 and fired two shots in the sky in an attempt to terrify us, but we kept marching and we passed them, as the road was clear. We reached another checkpoint before entering the Erbin Square, when we came closer to the Square, one of the soldiers of Army of Islam told us “I will shoot you”, then one of the demonstrators told him “shoot then” and he took off his shirt and faced the soldier bare-breasted, then, the soldier shot him directly in the abdomen. This was the first injury in the ranks of the demonstrators. After that, the soldier fired shots again injuring numbers of the demonstrators including the doctor Ali al-Omar, one of the Board Staff at Aleppo University from Eastern Ghouta, as well as injuring Abo Yamen, the former Director of the Educational Office in Saqba. All the injuries were in the lower part of the body.”

 

STJ received a video tape that shows several injuries among the demonstrators, places of the injuries differed between the abdomen and feet. Eyewitnesses’ accounts confirmed targeting the lower part of the body. 

 

Footage taken by one of the activists April 30, 2017. The demonstration is marching towards the Army of Islam-checkpoints in Erbin, Damascus countryside.  

 

In cross accounts to the first testimony, the activists S.M. and Z.M., who were there at the demonstration, confirmed that many people suggested the convergence to be far from the Army of Islam-checkpoints, and a group of the demonstrators to go and talk to the elements in the checkpoint in Erbin Square.  However, the majority decided that the whole demonstrators to go to the Square. The elements of the second checkpoint, which the demonstrators passed, interacted with them, took off their masks and chanted against the infighting.  

Z.M. said:

Following the gunfire on demonstrators and injuring many, in the third checkpoint near Erbin Square, soldiers of Army of Islam brought a water tank and sprayed water on the demonstrators using hoses. Then, we discovered that it was the wastewater.  All of this coincided with clashes occurring in the outskirts of Saqba and Jisreen between the Army of Islam and Hai’at Tahrir asch-Scham.”

 

Footage taken in the Erbin Surgery Hospital on April 30, 2017, by one of the activists and posted on his own Facebook page. It shows an injured who underwent a blast chest due to a shot in the abdomen.

 

Moreover, Osama al-Mesri, an activist, posted a video tape on his twitter account alleging to be shooting the protestors in Erbin, April 30, 2017. The video shows two people who were injured in the gunfire.  

 

Footage taken from Osama al-Mesri’s Twitter account along with the tweet. To upload the video from the STJ special YouTube, please press the link.

 

The Ghouta Media Center released a video tape showing the first moments of shooting the demonstrators. The video also shows three injured people, as well as some masked soldiers of the Army of Islam. To upload the video from the STJ special You Tube, please press the link.  

 

Footage taken from the previous video tape showing masked elements from the Army of Islam during the countering with the demonstrators. Date of release: April 30, 2017

 

Analysis of the visual evidences that were taken from the previous video tape, showing the area where elements of the Amy of Islam shot the demonstrators.

 

Footage illustrates the side where the gunfire fired from, and towards the demonstrators in Erbin, Damascus countryside, April 30, 2017

 

STJ received another video tape showing the time of the gunfire from a different angle.

In the same context, the Army of Islam released a statement on the official website stressing that the gunfire was by one of the elements and denying it to be an order by the army leadership.

 

Photo credit: the official website of Army of Islam

 

The military operations among the warring factions was accompanied by assaults on the relief institutions from all sides.

 

A year of Infighting:

Paradoxically,  renewing the clashes among the Syrian armed opposition factions in Eastern Ghouta coincided with the anniversary of the clashes that erupted between the Army of Islam from one side and Failaq al-Rahman, and Jaish al-Fustat, which integrated at that time with al-Nusra Front and Fajr al-Umma faction, on the other side on April 28, 2016. The Clashes ended after months leaving dozens of civilians dead and wounded, apart from hundreds of military deaths from all parties, according to activists from inside Ghouta.
 

Annexes:

- A list of the civilian detainees arrested by the Army of Islam following the recent confrontations with other local factions, STJ received the list from activists inside Ghouta.

  1. Hadi al-Munjed, the Orient TV reporter, was aressted for two hours in the Army of Islam-chekpoint on April,28,2017.
  2. Ammar Rateb Sa’eb, 25, an activist, a member in the Media Association and a reporter in the Syrian Media Authority. The  Army of Islam aressted him on April 28, 2017, for 3 hours.  
  3. Abdul Rahman Tafour, an activist and a member in the Media Association. The Army of Islam arrested him for three hours on April 29, 2017.
  4. The activist Aghyd al-Tabaa, from Damascus. The army of Islam arrested him on May 1, 2017, for ten hours then released him.
  5. Mohammed Tafour from Douma. The Army of Islam arrested him on May 1, 2017, for two hours then released him.
  6. Hasan Tafour, from Douma. The Army of Islam arrested him on May 1, 2017, for 2 hours then released him. 
  7. Mostafa Ali Tafour, from Douma. The Army of Islam arrested him on May 1, 2017, for two hours then released him.

 

      A list of the civilians arrested by Failaq al-Rahman   in Easter Ghouta, following the recent confrontations with other local factions. STJ received it from local activists inside Ghouta. 

  1. The Sheikh Hamed al-Saqraq from Erbin. Failaq al-Rahman arrested him on May 4, 2017, and he is still in detention until the moment of writing this report May 12, 2017.
  2. Mohammed Kheir al-Halaby, a lawyer. Failaq al-Rahman arrested him on May 6, 2017, and he is still in detention until the moment of writing this report, May 12, 2017.
  3. Abu Wasim al-Etri, a member of Zamalka Council. Failaq al-Rahman arrested him on May 6, 2017 in Zamalka, and he is still in detention until the moment of writing this report on May 12, 2017. 
  4. The Sheikh Mohammed Sindiyan. Failaq al-Rahman arrested him on May 10, 2017, and he is still in detention until the moment of writing this report on May 12, 2017.
  • A list of the civilians arrested by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), following the recent confrontations with other local factions. STJ received the list from local activists from inside Ghouta.
  1. Abdul Basset Ramadan, from Jisreen, an accountant for “Orents” organization; he was arrested on April 30, 2017, during storming of SAED Institution that provides medical services. He is still in detention until the moment of writing this report on May 12, 2017.
  2. Fahad Mardiny, a lawyer, was arrested on May 2, 2017 in Zamalka, and he is still in the custody until the moment of writing this report on May 12, 2017.
  3. Modar Yassin from Jisreen, he was arrested on May 9, 2017, and he is still in the custody until the moment of writing this report on May 12, 2017.
  4. Ahmad Abdrrahim, from al-Marj. He is an activist and a member in the Media Association. He was arrested along with the SAED Organization staff for five days in Jisreen, and then they were released.

 

  • The civilain deaths in the military operations  between the Army of Islam from one side and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Failaq al-Rahman on the other side in Eastern Ghouta:
  1.  Amer Riyad Karnabeh, an adult male from Erbin. Elements of the Army of Islam killed him with a bullet when he was rescuing the wounds in Erbin. 
  2. Mohamed Hasan Najeeb, an adult male from Hazzeh. An anonymous source bullet killed him.
  3. Shaimaa Yassin a female from Kafr Batna. An anonymous source bullet killed her.
  4. Ma’rouf at-Taweel, a child from Hazzeh. An anonymous source bullet killed him.
  5. Ahmed at-Taweel from Hazzeh. An anonymous source bullet killed him.
  6. Nourdin al-Harbawy, also known as Abo Majid from Erbin. A sniper bullet from anonymous source killed him.
  7. Sayifdin al-Homsi, an adult male, also known as Abo Ameer from Aftris.  An anonymous source bullet killed him. 
  8. Sariya al-Quwatli, adult male from Saqba. An anonymous source bullet killed him.
  9. Abdelwahab Nesli, an adult male, also known as Abo Ali, from Erbin. An anonymous source bullet killed him.
  10. Zaid Al-Qalloushi from Kafr Batna. An anonymous source bullet killed him.
  11. Hasan Hasan, 90, from Kafr Batna. An anonymous source bullet killed him on May 4, 2017.
  12. Mazen al-Hakim, also known as Abo Sameer, from Douma.  An anonymous source bullet killed him on May 5, 2017, while he was sitting at home during the clashes between factions from the side of Madyara.

 

STJ could not get access to the identity of all detainees from all parties nor the identity of the civilians dead given the difficulties in moving as well as the dangerous security situation.

The total number of the dead is approximately 170 being soldiers or civilians, According to medical sources from Ghouta.

 



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