Best of 2016: Regime Faces Discontent from Loyalists After Officers ‘Betray’ Soldiers in Ambush, Massacre

Supporters furious after images surfaced Wednesday depicting a massacre of hundreds of Syrian army soldiers in the Damascus countryside

As the Assad regime announced its victories in northern Aleppo, Lattakia and Daraa, 250 of its soldiers were trying to advance on the Eastern Ghouta fronts, in the areas of Tel al-Sowam and Tel Kurdi — but only a small number of them would survive, as they were ambushed by Army of Islam fighters. Dozens of regime forces were killed, while numerous others remained surrounded, some of them wounded.

Media sources loyal to the regime acknowledged the real number of killed was up to 180 fighters, provoking a storm of protest among pro-regime civilian and military groups against the Syrian army leadership in the Damascus countryside. Online comments blasted General Ali Abbas, head of the sector, accusing him of “betraying the soldiers, entangling them in a bad situation, and causing their deaths.”

A Facebook page loyal to the Assad regime under the name “The Missing” shed light on “the massacre of the regime forces” in Tel al-Sowam, publishing two video clips purporting to confirm how the soldiers who were killed were “betrayed”. The video, published on Wednesday morning, depicts discussions between General Abbas and the soldiers who would later meet their deaths.

The page said: “The general told them they needed to penetrate about 1-2 km into the militant-held areas. The soldiers told him that the area was very dangerous and the attack should be preceded by artillery fire. The general accused the soldiers of being a ‘fifth column’ and said what was demanded were military orders, and those who violated them would be transferred to military courts (…) The soldiers were forced to attack, and found themselves in an ambush prepared with all types of weapons. From among 250 fighters only 60 survived”.

The video clips show surrounded fighters appealing to their leaders, asking them to use tanks and break the siege. Soldiers wounded in the confrontations also appear in the video.

Regime loyalists demanded that an investigation be opened into what they described as “the massacre” to hold the traitors to account. Some comments on Facebook accused regime officers of “treason”, stating they sacrificed the soldiers in exchange for their survival.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.


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