Civil events in the town of Haas in the southern Idleb countryside commemorated the second anniversary of the “Massacre of the Pens”, which was carried out by regime aircraft when they bombed a school compound in October 2016. The attack killed 36 civilians, including 17 students and teachers, a doctor, and wounded more than 116 others, some of whom had limbs amputated. The event was attended by students from the school who survived the massacre, as well as their families and a number of civil society organizations and agencies, and the Free Police and some figures from the Free Education Directorate.
The events were permeated by a number of speeches delivered by teachers and students in which they discussed their feelings about the massacre and the terror and fear for their friends, some of whom were injured, and some of whom were killed. A play was also staged by students which embodied the pain of the moment when the massacre occurred, and the state of the students at that time. They also held up signs with pictures of their friends who died in the massacre and slogans commemorating the events.
Abou Nazeer Haas, a humanitarian activist in the town, described what he saw on the day of the massacre, “Two years have passed since that black day when blood was mingled with learning, pens, paper, trees and rocks. I cannot forget that day. I have never seen anything like those hours in my life. Children with severed limbs, lying as if they were asleep and dreaming, and no one could wake them up. Students were killed, teachers were killed, the books and even the school buildings were destroyed and scattered to the winds. Words cannot express the extent of this tragedy, and we cannot say anything about what happened except that it is a mark of shame on the foreheads of all those who claim to be humanitarians.”
Human Rights Watch obtained evidence in 2016 proving the complicity of Russia and the regime in the bombing of the school complex in Haas. They sent a message to the Russian Defense Ministry which showed satellite images of the school complex in Haas that was struck by Russian aerial attacks.
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.