SAGE Journals

Shabbiha: Paramilitary groups, mass violence and social polarization in Homs
The twin Karm al-Zeitoun massacres are a good example of this course of events. The mostly Sunni neighborhood lies in a strategic area between three mostly Alawite neighborhoods (Nuzha, Akrama, and Zahra) and was sealed off with checkpoints and shelled throughout late 2011.19 On 26 January 2012, the State Intelligence (Amn al-Dawla) surrounded the neighborhood, as the Shabbiha stormed the neighborhood on foot, raided houses and massacred at least 36 civilians indiscriminately. One of the victims was Mohammed Turki al-Mohammed (1972–2012), a former detainee who had been released from prison shortly before the massacre and had returned home, only to be killed in the massacre.20 This first massacre was followed by the second massacre early March. On 9 March 2012, SAA tanks entered Karm al-Zeitoun and began shelling it. On the night of 11 March, State Intelligence and Shabbiha encircled the neighborhood, stormed the inhabited houses, and massacred at least 47 women and children in the district.21 Video footage of the bodies shows men, women, and children in civilian clothing, shot in the face, throats slit, stabbed, hacked, and burnt, in what must have been very intimate forms of violence. A local activist named Abu Moaz comments on the video, as he describes in great detail the victims’ wounds and names, amid the pandemonium of grieving family members. The death toll is estimated at between 40 and 60 civilians, including women and children, with especially the Bahader, Akkra, and al-Mohammed families being struck (Syrian Network for Human Rights, 2012). Some women had been raped before being killed, according to survivors.22 The Karm al-Zeitoun massacres were one of the first in which unarmed children had been slaughtered in cold blood, in what was yet another moral threshold crossed in an ever-escalating repression.
08-04-2020 …