Before going through the events of this day, I have to say that I couldn’t take the Muslim Brotherhood book about Hama, “Hama, The Tragedy of Modern Time”, as a resource except in where I could double-check the events. The book is to be considered a valuable source of information about the Massacre. However, it is not the source used to highlight the daily events of Hama Massacre in this blog. I will refer to Muslim Brotherhood with MB in the day-to-day events.
Hama is divided by al-Assi, Orontes, River to two main areas. Al-Hadir area is to the north and east of the river. Al-Souk area is to the south and west of the river. Both areas had several old and traditional neighborhoods and new and somewhat modern ones.
Another important thing about the nature of the people of Hama is their known generosity and hospitability. There is an expression in Syria attributed to the city: “A Hamwi, i.e. of/from Hama, invitation”. When a Hamwi invites you, it doesn’t mean you “can” accept, it means actually you “have to” accept. The people of Hama are the most generous and hospitable people in the world that they get offended if you rejected their invitations.
It is imperative also to mention quotes tracked back to the Assads about Hama. That murderer Rifaat Assad said: I will make history books say,” once upon a time, there was a city called Hama”.
Ali Deeb was the Defense Companies – Sarya al-Difa’a – commander in Hama, and Rifaat Assad’s deputy. He said, “Lt. General Hafez Assad gave clear and direct orders to attack the whole city, civilians and MB’s fighters, and we have to follow these orders. Our mission is to kill and displace as many people as possible”.
Wednesday, 3 February 1982
Rocket launchers were positioned on the roof of the “City Hall” in al-Assi Square, Orontes River Square. They targeted al-Hadir area. Al-Hadir is (was) an area with narrow streets and alleys. It is a civilian area but a few MB fighters were hiding there.
Rockets were launched randomly at al-Hadir neighborhood with a rate that reached sometimes 10 rockets per minute. The old neighborhood was inhibited by the majority of Hama population, over 100,000.
Most people were killed either by the fire that burned out their houses, or by the falling rubble. Only a few were able to run away and save themselves forced to leave their loved ones dying behind.
In al-Souk area, the main target that day was the neighborhoods around the Castle. Rockets were launched at these neighborhoods randomly as well.
On this day, the regime deployed army forces everywhere in Hama – in every street and at every corner. The soldiers were knocking on doors asking for food, water, covers, etc. The people of the city, as generous and hospitable as they are, offered their “killers” everything they asked. However, the soldiers, as many of them said later, were told not to ask for anything but to “take over” anything they needed. They opened the closed shops and started following that order.
The aftermath of Wednesday, 2 February 1982
Al-Hadir area seemed to be completely demolished. Dr. al-Ahmad said: “the whole area was nothing but a dark cloud of ashes and dust from the burning rubble.”
Al-Souk area, where the shops and the trading areas of Hama are, were subject to looting by the deployed soldiers. As for the neighborhoods around the castle, they were mostly demolished like in al-Hadir area.
Under the military attack, the lack of communications, the media blackout, and the curfew, no one can actually estimate the civilian casualties of that day.
P.S. The whole account of the day was translated from Dr. Khalid Al-Ahmad report.