Rifaat Assad in a direct order to Colonel Deeb Dhaher: “Use napalm if you have to… I want all buildings to burst into flames”
Most of the times, when Assad forces massacred people, they didn’t allow anyone to move or bury the bodies for days. They used to pile up the bodies somewhere and wait for their relative to come looking for them before shooting them. This kept happening for 26 days.
Dr. al-Ahmad says, “The whole city was under the army’s control. People thought that they will be able to go back to their normal daily lives in peace”.
However, the Assads had already set up another plan. In his diaries, Dr. al-Ahmad mentions that the “elimination brigades” – a unit of the Defense Companies (Saraya al-Difa’a) – were brought to the city. The elimination brigades were responsible for mass executions in Hama.
On this day, Friday the 5th, the army started attacking the old neighborhoods of the city and destroying everything in their way.
Assad forces started bombing and shelling al-Souk area at noon. Residents, who sought refuge in the basements of some buildings, were executed later. Al-Assida and al-Zanbaki neighborhood were bombed and shelled as well. Most of the residential buildings were destroyed.
Mass killings in al-Dabbagha:
“Soldiers were shouting, we will burn you all, we will kill you all, we will burn your homes”, a survivor said.
That was exactly what happened. Before setting the whole neighborhood on fire, they brought all men out and shot them all dead in front of their women and children. Then they told the women to go back inside and locked them in before burning them alive.
Mass killings in Abi al-Fida’a:
Abi al-Fida’a is a long street with apartment buildings. The soldiers used a different method in their mass killings in that street – they used to execute families in their homes, and steal everything they find afterwards.*
One of the apartment buildings belonged to one family, al-Moussa family. Al-Moussa brothers, their families, and their parents were killed that day. A big family seized to exist after that day. This atrocious massacre is called now “Al-Moussa Family Massacre”.
In Abi al-Fida’a, 40 women with their children tried to hide in a basement. They were detected by the soldiers and they were all shot with their children. Only one child survived that massacre – his uncle found him later sucking blood from his mother’s breast.**
* Relative of mine lived in Abi al-Fida’a Street. I met some survivors but who had no memories of what happened. Most survivors were children who were either body-shielded by their parents or older siblings or missed by the soldiers somehow.
** The survivor lives now in the UAE.
Finally, writing about this day was the hardest for me since I have heard stories about this day from my relatives and friends.