On 25/5/2012, a group of Shabiha thugs protected by units of the Syrian army carried out a massacre in the town of al-Houla and other nearby villages, especially the village of Taldu, killing 109 people and injuring approximately 300. The majority of the victims were women and children, killed in their homes with the use of white weapons and firearms.
The massacre took place after army forces and its popular militias shelled al-Houla for over ten hours. These forces then raided the town and carried out acts of immediate killing through the use of firearms and white weapons.
The massacre coincided with the presence of international observers, who did not reach the town until 24 hours after the massacre took place. They listened to the testimonials of witnesses and victims and released a report afterwards.
In the report released by the International Commission for Enquiry on Syria on 27/6/2012, the commission mentioned that it suspected that forces loyal to Assad had committed a large number of acts of killing in al-Houla in Homs. However, international observers were unable to specify the identities of the criminals in those particular crimes.
The commission also noted in a report released on 16/8/2012, that “the possibilities were available for armed groups loyal to the regime and government forces and Shabiha thugs to gain access to the two scenes of crime: the first being the homes of the family of Abdul Razzaq al-Sab’ah which is located on the al-Sad Road, and the second is the house of the Al-Sayed family on the main road opposite the hospital”.
Since then, the commission has concluded that the checkpoint in the area, which is closer to the al-Sayed family house on the main road, was under government control on the day of the massacre. And the frontline, which divided opposition groups and army forces, lay north of the checkpoint. Due to this, the commission concluded that it was very unlikely that armed opposition groups were able to reach the house of the al-Sayed family on the day of the massacre.
Concerning the location of the Abdul Razzaq family in which over 60 were killed, the commission noted that the massacre required a large number of perpetrators. It found a basis in this in the pictures sent to them from satellites and identical testimonials, that the regime forces which had been stationed in the waterworks would have easily uncovered the movement of vehicles or arms, not to mention any large groups. Consequently, the commission believes that it was impossible for any large group of the opposition to have reached the site of the massacre.
The report also noted that during the events, the national hospital was under the control of the army, and had been so for several months. And yet, despite the fact that the hospital was within walking distance from the scenes of crime, neither the injured nor those running away from the scene came to the hospital for treatment or protection. The commission concluded, within its available remit, that all the injured, their relatives, and those from nearby homes, fled to areas under opposition control; and none of the injured sought medical care at the national hospital. The report released by the Syrian regime had characterised the al-Sayed family as loyal to the regime. However, the surviving members of the family fled to Taldu which lies under opposition control, after deciding not to seek help from the nearby regime forces.
Despite the conclusions reached in the report by the commission, the international community has not fulfilled its role in following up the investigations and taking the criminals to account.
The Houla massacre was the beginning of a series of massacres which took place in the months following it, such as the al-Qubair massacre which took place almost ten days after al-Houla, and then the massacre of al-Tarimasah, and so on.
The impunity applied by the international community in Syria since the beginning of the crisis and until this moment, has led to the perpetrators of massacres to continue their genocide politics which Syria has been witnessing since 2011 and until today.