2 – 6 February 1982

Tuesday, 2 February 1982

The Syrian Army and Defense Companies (Sarya al-Difa’a) entered Hama at 21:00.

First Attack was at al-Barodyiah neighborhood.

Phone lines, electricity, and supplies were cut completely starting that night.

The whole face of the city started changing. The whole city could hear the gun and artillery fires sounds. It lasted for four weeks.

It was a sudden attack, nobody knows what happened exactly that night. All what they know is that it was the first night of a 4-week military operation in the city.

Dr. al-Ahmad says: “The terror started actually after the military sieged and controlled the city”.

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”.

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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, 3 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.

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Thursday, 4 February 1982

“Looting”

The regime started bombing the city randomly around midnight. During the bombing, soldiers were robbing everything they could manage to access, even government buildings.

Soldiers had already broken into private shops and properties the night before. They carried out the most organized robbery the city had ever witnessed. Nothing was left intact.

They went even further rubbing government buildings. In all government buildings in Hama, there were the salaries of the government employees of the city – they were stolen by soldiers. They filled the City Hall with garbage and turned all rooms into toilets. They destroyed all public records. People of Hama weren’t able later to obtain any kind of legal document.

Not only did they steal and rob every shop in the city, but also they firebombed all the shops after they finished. “In an hour, all shops turned into black holes!” said Dr. al-Ahmad.

Commodities were taken out and staked on the street for the army vehicles to come later and collect them.

Survivors said that soldiers were only picking only the 50 and 100 SL bank notes. Some of them even threw the ONE SL bank notes on the ground and burned some of them because their pockets were filled with larger notes. Those who took the ONE SL bank notes went to Homs and forced people there to pay them 100 SL for 120 of the ONE SL notes.

Mass Killings

Janoub al-Malaab (Hama al-Jadeeda)

Janoub al-Malaab (South to the Stadium), was called this name publicly because of its location. It was a new quiet neighborhood in Hama. MB’s fighters used to avoid it because their movement there was easily detected.

The Defense Companies, Saraya al-Difa’a, called for people on Thursday, to gather in the neighborhood square, and warned them not to engage in any resistance, struggle, or fighting against the regime forces, and then dismissed them.

One hour later, they did the same – called for the people, warned them, and dismissed them.

And then, they called on the people to gather, asking for everyone to come to the square – women, children, and old people – and they complied thinking it was the same as the previous two times.

When nearly most of the neighborhood residents gathered, Defense Companies forces started shooting at them. After killing everyone who came to the square, they searched the buildings and killed those who were still at their homes.

The civilian casualties of Thursday, 4 February 1982 were more than 1500 of that neighborhood alone.

Other attacks were launched that day on SIX other neighborhoods. Casualties in these neighborhoods were unknown. Colonel Fuad Ismael was in charge of those attacks.

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Friday, 5 February, 1982

On this day, Friday the 5th, the army started attacking the old neighborhoods of the city

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 (Saray al-Difa’a) – were brought to the city. The elimination brigades were responsible for mass executions in Hama.

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Saturday, 6 February 1982

The regime started airdrop operation on this day in three different areas; Aleppo Road, al-Thawra forest, and the Castle.

Defense Companies, Sarya al-Difa’a, executed seven soldiers for trying to defect when they could not tolerate the atrocities. They were shown on Syrian TV as victims of the MB militias.

In Abi al-Fida’a St. some soldiers helped some residents who survived the massacre of Friday. A family of seven, and three injured men were saved by two different soldiers.

 Janoub al-Malaab Neighborhood

Soldiers asked men to come out to be asked some questions and later started killing them. 1800-2000 were killed in this neighborhood on that day.

Souk al-Shajara Neighborhood

This is the poorest neighborhood in Hama; families sometimes live together in one small house. Assad forces killed everybody who was over 14 year-old.

Souk al-Halabiya

This is a market place for grain trading. Assad forces killed more than 100 people, and then burned most of them with the shops and the goods.

Some documented names of underage casualties in Souk al-Halabiya*
Sobie’ Mustafa Halabiya – born 1965 (~17 year-old)
Fayez Takem – born 1968 (~14 year-old)
Ehab Samman – born 1967 (~15 year-old)
Ahmad al-Ashi – born 1968 (~14 year-old)

*The full list did not include all casualties – some bodies could not be identified because of the fire. However, the list of casualties is available in different sources, and they are almost identical.

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