The Battle For The Houla Massacre: 

The Video Evidence Explained 

(and the rest re-considered)

The Citizen's Investigation into War Crimes in Libya (CIWCL) announces the release of a new report on events in Syria: 

The Battle For The Houla Massacre: The Video Evidence Explained (and the rest reconsidered) 

PDF, 61 pages, July 19, 2014

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This again re-visits the notorious May, 2012 massacre of over 100 civilians in al-Houla, Homs Province The prevailing narrative blaming the Syrian government was set instantly, by accepting what “the witnesses” said: the victims were all Sunnis killed by local Alawite Shabiha, after a massive Army artillery barrage gave them cover.

But this 60-page PDF questions that, and expands on the visual evidence for a victorious rebel assault on Taldou, the site of the massacres, on that same day. Amazingly detailed, video-based research suggest the multinational forces (Free Syrian Army and allies) conquered four of the five security posts and/or circumvented all of them, taking control of Taldou in the hours just before the massacre.

Insurgents say they fled the intense shelling and that's why they weren't there to stop the Shabiha that evening. But no videos clearly show this barrage, several support a rebel assault instead, and later ones show a Taldou that was suddenly "rebel-held" on the morning of May 26th, with the Syrian Army clawing to regain control.

The UN's Commission of Inquiry (CoI) had to conclude rebels went of the offensive and conquered two of the posts on May 25 – a 40% takeover and no more. The two contested posts are the ones closest to the massacre sites, and so two of the many targeted homes "remained in Government-controlled territory the entire time," the CoI decided, and the rest were close enough; the Army halted the rebel attack, and then let the "Shabiha" stroll in and massacre citizens that same night.

This report challenges those and other presumptions with 18 video exhibits. Visually analyzed, placed and timed, these show civilian-dress fighters firing AK-47s and RPGs towards security posts by 2:25 PM and also at sunset (and between those times a curious and near-total lack of video at the most crucial times and locales). We see from a distance two security posts smoldering by about 6:30 PM. The National Hospital - its Army detachment reportedly fled as rebels overran and burned the place – is seen belching smoke too by 8:40. It's immediately across the street from one of those two supposedly government-held massacre sites.

By the prevailing (CoI) narrative, the regime and Shabiha did their slaying that day, and the rebels launched an ambitious offensive just before it. Both operations are too large to be anything other than pre-planned. And so they're proposing an implausible coincidence theory that the two plans lined up like that. (That's on top of their Army-Shabiha massacre conspiracy theory)

The other alleged witnesses - who blame rebels for both the battle and the slaughter - have no such coincidence to explain. These also claim a conspiracy, explaining that the victims were government-loyalist Sunnis, relatives of a member of parliament, and mainly a clan of former Sunnis who turned Shi'ite (no Alawites were killed in Houla that day – that was in another town). 

  Nothing proves or disproves these alleged victim details, but the critics can say what they will about those witnesses - they described the Battle for the Houla Massacre as video shows it, while the other side denies there was any such thing.

Video and photographic evidence, read accurately, is always more reliable than eyewitness testimony - especially in this conflict, where the word also serves as tactically useful sectarian propaganda. Yet the rebel-supplied alleged witnesses with their weapon-words remain the basis of the prevailing narrative. This report seeks to correct that problem.

In the hopes of improving the findings and increasing awareness of them, the author (if not the CIWCL officially) is now inviting criticism and peer-review of the material here in a specialized new Houla Massacre blog. It's hoped this report and the review process will be some small help in understanding and breaking the real chain of violence in Syria. 

- CIWCL co-founder Adam Larson,

July 19, 2014