Interview with one of the witnesses of the massacres of Banyas
This is the text of an interview with Abu Mohammad an eye witness who survived the massacre of Banyas and narrated on Al-Arabiyah T.V what he saw in Ras-Elnabe’ in Banyas:
Abu Mohammad: They allowed people to pass normally and we did not feel what they were planning to first. This was on Wednesday people were coming in and out of the village happy. There were checkpoints but they do not stop anyone and people were coming in and out. Then on Wednesday, they cut the roads and the highway. There was no bread. Motorcycles were not allowed to go in or out. Here the people felt scared that there was something about to happen. They all went down on Thursday to the bridge near the checkpoint to run away. They were around 600-500 women and men. Here the army on the checkpoints started to shout at them and lie them all down on the ground. Then he said you animals stand up and go to your homes. This was at night after sunset. This time they were shelling on Al-Bayda and Ras Elreefi. Here the people got scared and they tried to run away up or down. Some wanted to sleep out. Then on Friday, the people wanted to go out and they did not allow them. There was a curfew; no one was allowed to move. People were not allowed even to approach the checkpoint. When anyone approached it, at least 300 pullets were fired in the sky. They pushed the people away from the checkpoint to prevent them from running away. The people then remained inside their own homes. Between 3 and 3:30, they started shelling on Banyas especially on Ras-Elnabe’ using mortar shelling and artillery. The shelling was coming from near the bridge of Ooze, and Alqossor and from under the bridge of Ras-Elnabe’ and from all checkpoints. The people were living in peace before, we have nothing in the villages and there were no armed rebels. We then saw the army coming down the bridge of Ooze approaching the village and they were covering them by shelling the village by artilleries. They reached the first house and they forced all people out and they turned their faces to the wall and shot them all. Then in the second house, they killed around 4 or 5. At this time I put some of my family outside and I came back to take the rest of them to take them. Here when I came back I was forced to hide in a little basement. I was stuck inside so I said I am not better than the rest. They took all my family outside with other families. They turn their faces to the wall. They were around 35 members of my family. This is only from my family; there were other families as well. They asked them to turn their faces to the wall and they all did including children. The youngest among them was 15 days old. 8 children among them are aged between 15 days and one year and a half, two years, and three years. Then, one of the army men said literally » kill all of them do not have mercy at anyone, kill all of them have no mercy at anyone ». I was this moment in the basement and I heard everything.
Presenter: People also said that the killers were speaking a non Syrian accent. Through what you have seen, have you noticed this?
Abu Mohammad: Yes yes my dear sister, there was speech I did not understand. I am Syrian from Banyas from Ras-elnabe’. There was speech I could not understand. Some of them were wearing marines, others wearing civilians and white shoos. They were around 150. After they killed the children. They piled them over each other. And one of them said look this one is still alive, and then they shot the baby in the head. They were picking them one by one and shoot them. If you have seen the pictures, there were two children after they killed them, they burned their hands and legs.
There were the Rajab family, they killed 16 of them and also the family of Sabag, the family of Al-Aleene, the family of Turuk, the family of Dahbaj, the family of Jalul. The family of Jalul, they killed Abu-Alabed, his two sons, 6 girls, his parents, his two brothers. And the father of Abu-Alabed was disabled, he used the chair he cannot move. And you have also the family of Lahoof and Qasem.
Presenter: You are naming the families killed, how many hours the killing lasts?
Abu Mohammad: They entered at 3:30 and they started shelling, it was around 20 to 30 shell in a minute. The houses were ruined and then they entered killed everyone alive. This was only one street that I am telling you about if I include other streets, the number of dead exceeds 1500. They are over 1000 only in Ras-elnabe’. They brought a truck (freezer) and they started putting the bodies inside. They took more than 200 martyrs, more than 200 martyrs.
Presenter: You remained in the basement, how many hours?
Abu Mohammad: I remained for an hour and a half and I was unable to breathe because they were very close I could not move or go out. For an hour and a half they remained standing in front of my relatives’ house. After they turned their faces to the wall and shot them all, they went to continue killing in the other houses. They raided other families and the one after and after. This moment I felt that there was no one outside. When I went outside I saw a little girl crawling and raising her hands. She was shot twice in her hands. When I saw her I felt dizzy and lost consciousness. A neighbour came when he saw me like this he waked me up and we took the little girl. There was also one man of her family still alive. This man told me that when she first raised her head, he told her “sleep sleep otherwise they will come back and shot us”. He let the girl sleep again. When they saw us approaching they felt safe and we carried them and take them away. I am telling you of what I have seen in my own eyes. I went to check what happened to the neighbours, I could not find anyone. More than 1000 died in this area.
Presenter: So they did not care for children, women, and elderly?
Abu Mohammad: Children 15 days have been killed.
Presenter: People also said white weapons have been used, have you noticed people killed by white weapons?
Abu Mohammad: Some people were killed by white weapons and knives, others their heads were crushed by stones until their heads exploded. They did not leave children or elderly. And the killers belong to more than one sect. There are Alwitte and Shia and from Iran. There are accents I have never heard of. I am Arab and Syrian.
I have never heard of such accents. And there is also the family of Dandesh, they were all burned inside their homes. Three houses are close to each other, they burned them inside their homes.
Interview translated by Welsh Solidarity for Syria page