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Twelve years after the massacre: Remembering the victims of Al-Houla

A victim of Al-Houla massacre; Credit: Anonymous/AP

Today, May 25, 2024, marks the 12th anniversary of the bloody massacre of 108 civilians in the Syrian village of Taldou which came to be known as the Houla Massacre. Most of the victims were summarily executed including 49 children and 34 women. A small number of those killed on that day were determined to have been killed in the regime’s shelling of the town before the arrival of the armed men who went from house to house committing the executions.

Eyewitnesses to the massacre said that the executioners had forced their way into homes and rounded up entire families before showering them with bullets. Some were killed in the surrounding fields as they tried to escape the unfolding horror. Among the survivors were many who had been wounded as well.

all 15 members of the UN Security Council were quick to condemn the Syrian government for using heavy weapons against civilians

Shelling of the area had begun early in the afternoon and the executioners had moved into Taldou around 6 pm under cover of the persistent rocket fire and heavy tank shelling of the Syrian army.

Shocked by the brutality of the massacre, all 15 members of the UN Security Council were quick to condemn the Syrian government for using heavy weapons against civilians. The United States, the United Kingdom, and eleven other countries also moved to expel Syrian ambassadors and diplomats from their territories.

Although the Assad regime tried to place blame for the massacre on the opposition in the days that followed, eyewitness accounts, independent investigations, and evidence collected in the aftermath of the bloody massacre proved the regime’s allegations to be false and just another attempt to promote its propaganda.

Despite the international condemnation at the time, no one has ever been held accountable for the massacre

In an article published by the Guardian shortly after the massacre, Major Jihad Raslan, a senior military officer who had been in Al-Houla on leave when it occurred, had described how he had decided to defect after witnessing hundreds of pro-regime militia carry out the brutal killings of civilians in Taldou.

Despite the international condemnation at the time, no one has ever been held accountable for the massacre. Outraged by the fact that Assad was allowed to attend the Arab Summit days ago in Bahrain as some countries have been making moves to normalize relations with him, many Syrians have been posting photos and videos of Al-Houla massacre victims on X (formerly known as Twitter) and other social media platforms as a reminder of the countless atrocities that have been committed in Syria under Assad’s dictatorial rule.  

On Thursday, May 23, Levant24 published an in-depth article titled The Horrors of Houla as a part of its Freedom’s Price series that aims to shed light on the major massacres that have occurred during the ongoing conflict in Syria over the last 13 years. The article includes heartbreaking photos of some of the victims that were taken in the aftermath of the massacre.

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