A military source told Al-Modon that on Jul. 25, 2019, regime forces transferred 15 prisoners from the Military Investigation Branch 248 to the military court in al-Mezzeh in Damascus, and sentenced them to death, without specifying when the sentences would be carried out. The sentenced men were then transferred to the Saydnaya Military Prison.
The source added that Hezbollah had arrested those who were sentenced and held them in their prisons for three years, before handing them over to the Air Force Intelligence directorate a year ago. The prisoners spent a full year in detention, moving between the Palestine Branch 235 and the Military Investigation Branch 248.
A source told Al-Modon that Captain Mohamed Nassif was among those sentenced to die. Regime forces had released one of Nassif’s companions in 2018 as part of a prisoner exchange with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, coinciding with the evacuation of the towns of Kafraya and al-Foua. However, the Air Force Intelligence had re-arrested them while transferring them from Idleb to the Damascus countryside, with mediation from the Fourth Division, and then transferred them to the Palestine Branch.
A source in eastern Qalamoun told Al-Modon that families of one of the prisoners in Saydnaya—a defected soldier—had received from the civil registry department in the town of al-Qutayfah in eastern Qalamoun a notification of the death of their son in the prison without clarifying the cause of death or handing over his body. The prisoner’s family tried to pay money through intermediaries to secure the hand over a body, but the regime refused, and then instructed them to hold a limited funeral for him.
Al-Modon’s source added that dozens of defectors from eastern Qalamoun who had carried out settlements with regime forces had been arrested in recent months and transferred to Saydnaya after being investigated by Branch 248. Regime forces have forbidden visits to these prisons except through “intermediaries,” with their families paying huge sums to secure visits behind windows which only last minutes every three months. Families of the prisoners fear they could be executed as the Russian “guarantor” neglects its responsibilities.
Family of defectors in prison visited Russian officers in the headquarters of the Third Division more than once, and asked them to secure the release of their children from Saydnaya and to implement what had been agreed upon after the opposition left—but to no avail.
In the Homs countryside, a source told Al-Modon that the regime issued a death sentence at the start of July for Safwan Bakour, a prisoner in Saydnaya. Bakour is from the city of al-Houlah and had defected from the police. He was arrested after carrying out “settlement” procedures. The civil registry in al-Houlah informed Bakour’s family of his death without handing over his body. Osama al-Moussa, who is also from al-Houlah, had been executed in the Military Investigation Branch in Damascus after he was arrested by the Air Force Intelligence along with 12 young men while going from Homs to Damascus.
A source told Al-Modon that more than 15 young defectors had been arrested after the settlement deadline ended in al-Houlah. A portions of them were transferred to Saydnaya amid reports that some had been killed, without official notices. The Interior Ministry has kept four of them detained in the Political Security Branch.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.