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Geopolitics

Syria: Bearing Witness To A Family's Massacre In Homs

Mani, a photojournalist with Le Monde, was in Homs, Syria on Jan. 26 when he finds out about a massacre of a local family. Rebels lead him past enemy territory to see the bodies of the victims, including several young children. This is his account.

A burning building in Homs on Jan. 20, 2012 (FreedomHouse)
A burning building in Homs on Jan. 20, 2012 (FreedomHouse)
Mani

HOMS - It's 4:30 p.m., when Abou Bilal, a Syrian rebel, tells me about the telephone call he'd just received with the news: a massacre has taken place in the Nasihine neighborhood of the city. Twelve people, including several children, had been executed in their home. I had just returned from an exhausting day at a small medical facility set up in an area controlled by the opposition. It was full to overflowing with the severely wounded and the dead: all civilians, victims of loyalist snipers and bombs. An hour and a half after the news of the massacre, at 6 p.m., the first video images showing the bodies of the murdered family appears on YouTube.

Sniper shots can be heard non-stop in the surrounding area. We hear bursts of machine-gun fire, as well as explosions set off by forces loyal to the regime. Night has fallen, and several groups of soldiers from the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) board unmarked vehicles to set off for the counter-attack. Rebels in charge of communication are glued to their computers to get the day's information out.

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