Syrian soldiers are killing other Syrian soldiers in the northern part of the country, according to a source who spoke with Israel National News Monday night on condition of anonymity. The source said the soldiers being massacred were being pursued by their fellow security officers because they had broken ranks and tried to escape to Turkey.
“These are the soldiers who were seeking asylum across the border,” the source said. “They were running away, and so the other soldiers surrounded them and slaughtered them.”
Al Jazeera offered a similar but slightly different explanation of events. It featured a video (shown below) that purportedly shows the bodies of the soldiers and quoted anti-government activists who said they were "martyrs" who had been shot for refusing to open fire on Syrian citizens. (Warning: Video is graphic and not suitable for children.)
Syrian state television reported Monday that 120 security officers have been slaughtered in the town of Jisr al-Shughour by “armed groups.” According to the BBC, the report said government forces were sent to the town in response to calls for help from residents, and they died in an ambush. Other reports added the soldiers were surrounded by a large group of men armed with machine guns and they died almost instantly when the group opened fire.
International media have been banned from the area and thus it is extremely difficult to confirm any report or to verify any information broadcast on state-run media.
The father of incumbent President Bashar al-Assad nearly wiped out the central town of Hama in the 1980s – an event that has left a burning rage in survivors' hearts till today, according to Middle East analyst Fares Braizat.
“The people of this area have a long-standing revenge that they want to take out against the Syrian regime,” Braizat told Al Jazeera on Monday. A general strike was observed in the town to mourn the killing of more than 70 protesters last Friday.
Still, the phenomenon of protesters who until now have been peaceful and unarmed, taking up weapons and attacking security forces, is one that media are questioning.
An eyewitness in Jisr al-Shughour told the BBC that the protesters did not have weapons. He also said the all the soldiers who died had been “shot in the back by some Syrian security elements.”
Activists say that more than 1,000 people have been killed thus far in the Syrian Revolution.