1982 Hama massacre

The Hama massacre (Arabic: مجزرة حماة‎) occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian Arab Army and the Defense Companies, under the orders of the country's president Hafez al-Assad, besieged the town of Hama for 27 days in order to quell an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood against al-Assad's government.[1][2] The massacre, carried out by the Syrian Army under commanding General Rifaat al-Assad, effectively ended the campaign begun in 1976 by Sunni Muslim groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, against the government.

Initial diplomatic reports from Western countries stated that 1,000 were killed.[3][4] Subsequent estimates vary, with the lower estimates claiming that at least 2,000 Syrian citizens were killed,[5] while others put the number at 20,000 (Robert Fisk)[1] or 40,000 (Syrian Human Rights Committee).[2][6] About 1,000 Syrian soldiers were killed during the operation, and large parts of the old city were destroyed. The attack has been described as one of the "deadliest acts by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East".[7] According to Syrian opposition, the vast majority of the victims were civilians.[8]

According to Syrian media, anti-government rebels initiated the fighting when they "pounced on our comrades while sleeping in their homes and killed whomever they could kill of women and children, mutilating the bodies of the martyrs in the streets, driven, like mad dogs, by their black hatred." Security forces then "rose to confront these crimes" and "taught the murderers a lesson that has snuffed out their breath".[9]

Hama Islamic uprising
Part of Islamist uprising in Syria
1982HamaMassacre
Date2 February – 28 February 1982
Location
Result Islamist insurgency in Syria suppressed, decisive Syrian Army victory
Belligerents
Syria Defense Companies
Syria Syrian Arab Army
 • Military Intelligence
 • General Intelligence
 • Air Force Intelligence
Flag of the Muslim Brotherhood.gif Muslim Brotherhood in Syria
Commanders and leaders
Hafez al-Assad
Rifaat al-Assad
Hikmat al-Shihabi
Shafiq Fayadh
Ali Haydar
Ali Douba
Mohammed al-Khouli
`Adnan `Uqla
Units involved
 • 3rd Armoured Division
 • 10th Armoured Division
 • 14th Special Forces Division
Strength
Defense Companies: 3 Brigades (12,000 soldiers)
Syrian Arab Army : 4 Brigades (15,000 soldiers)
Total : About 30,000 soldiers
Fewer than 2000 armed volunteers
Casualties and losses
About 1,000 Estimates vary from 2,000 to 40,000.

Background

The Ba'ath Party of Syria, which advocated the ideologies of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism had clashed with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with a Sunni Islamist ideology, since 1940.[10] The two groups were opposed in important ways. The Ba'ath party was nominally secular, nationalist. The Muslim Brotherhood, like other Islamist groups, saw nationalism as un-Islamic and religion as inseparable from politics and government. Most Ba'ath party members were from humble, obscure backgrounds and favored radical economic policies, while Sunni Muslims had dominated the souqs and landed power of Syria, and tended to view government intervention in the economy as threatening.[11] Not all Sunni notables believed in fundamentalism, but even those who did not often saw the Brotherhood as a useful tool against the Ba'ath.[12]

Before Hama Massacre
Section of Hama before the government attack

The town of Hama in particular was a "stronghold of landed conservatism and of the Muslim Brothers," and "had long been a redoubtable opponent of the Ba'athist state."[10] The first full-scale clash between the two occurred shortly after the 1963 coup, in which the Ba'ath party first gained power in Syria. In April 1964 riots broke out in Hama, where Muslim insurgents put up "roadblocks, stockpiled food and weapons, ransacked wine shops." After an Ismaili Ba'ath militiaman was killed, riots intensified and rebels attacked "every vestige" of the Ba'ath party in Hama. Tanks were brought in to crush the rebellion and 70 members of the Muslim Brotherhood died, with many others wounded or captured, and still more disappearing underground.

After the clashes in Hama, the situation periodically erupted into clashes between the government and various Islamic sections. However a more serious challenge occurred after the Syrian invasion of Lebanon in 1976. From 1976 to 1982, Sunni Islamists fought the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria in what has been called a "long campaign of terror".[12] In 1979 the Brotherhood undertook guerrilla activities in multiple cities within the country targeting military officers and government officials. The resulting government repression included abusive tactics, torture, mass arrests, and a number of massacres. In July 1980, the ratification of Law No. 49 made membership in the Muslim Brotherhood a capital offense.[13]

Throughout the first years of the 1980s the Muslim Brotherhood and various other Islamist factions staged hit-and-run and bomb attacks against the government and its officials, including a nearly successful attempt to assassinate President Hafez al-Assad on 26 June 1980, during an official state reception for the president of Mali. When a machine-gun salvo missed him, al-Assad allegedly ran to kick a hand grenade aside, and his bodyguard (who survived and was later promoted to a much higher position) smothered the explosion of another one. Surviving with only light injuries, al-Assad's revenge was swift and merciless: only hours later a large number of imprisoned Islamists (reports say more than 1200) were executed in their cells in Tadmor Prison (near Palmyra), by units loyal to the President's brother Rifaat al-Assad.

In an incident in 1981, over 300 residents of Hama were killed by security forces, in a revenge attack for an Islamist terror incident.

Attack by insurgents in Hama

The events of the Hama massacre began at 2 am on 3 February 1982. An army unit searching the old city "stumbled on the hideout of the local guerilla commander, Omar Jawwad (aka Abu Bakr) and were ambushed. Other insurgent cells were alerted by radio and "roof-top snipers killed perhaps a score" of Syrian soldiers. Reinforcements were rushed to besiege Abu Bakr who then "gave the order for a general uprising" in Hama. Mosque loudspeakers used for the call to prayer called for jihad against the Ba'ath, and hundreds of Islamic insurgents rose to attack the homes of government officials and Baath Party leaders, overrun police posts and ransack armories. By daybreak of the morning of 3 February some 70 leading Ba'athists had been killed and the Islamist insurgents and other opposition activists proclaimed Hama a "liberated city", urging Syrians to rise up against the "infidel".[14]

Counter-attack by government forces

Rifaathafezassad
Hafez al-Assad (right), president of Syria. His brother Rifaat al-Assad (left) supposedly supervised the operation

According to author Patrick Seale, "every party worker, every paratrooper sent to Hama knew that this time Islamic militancy had to be torn out of the city, whatever the cost..." The military was mobilized, and president Hafez al-Assad sent Rifaat's special forces (the Defense companies), elite army units and Mukhabarat agents to the city. Before the attack, the Syrian government called for the city's surrender and warned that anyone remaining in the city would be considered a rebel. Hama was besieged by 12,000 troops for three weeks – the first week spent "in regaining control of the town," and the last two "in hunting down the insurgents."[14] Robert Fisk, in his book Pity the Nation, described how civilians were fleeing Hama while tanks and troops were moving towards the city's outskirts to start the siege. He cites reports of high numbers of deaths and shortages of food and water from fleeing civilians and from soldiers.[15]

According to Amnesty International, the Syrian military bombed the old city center from the air to facilitate the entry of infantry and tanks through the narrow streets; buildings were demolished by tanks during the first four days of fighting. Large parts of the old city were destroyed. There are also unsubstantiated reports of use of hydrogen cyanide by the government forces.[16] After encountering fierce resistance, Rifaat's forces ringed the city with artillery and shelled it for three weeks.

After the initial attacks, military and internal security personnel were dispatched to comb through the rubble for surviving members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathizers.[17] Torture and mass executions of suspected rebel sympathizers ensued, killing many thousands over several weeks. Rifaat, suspecting that rebels were still hiding in tunnels under the old city, had diesel fuel pumped into them and set ablaze and stationed T-72 tanks at the tunnel entrances to shell the militants exiting the tunnels.[18]

Fatality estimates

Initial diplomatic reports from western governments in 1982 had stated that 1000 were killed in the fighting.[3][4] Subsequent estimates of casualties varied from 2,000 to 40,000 people killed, including about 1,000 soldiers. Robert Fisk, who was in Hama shortly after the massacre, originally estimated fatalities at 10,000, but has since doubled the estimate to 20,000.[1][19][20] The president's brother Rifaat reportedly boasted of killing 38,000 people.[21] Amnesty International initially estimated the death toll was between 10,000 and 25,000.[7]

Reports by Syrian Human Rights Committee claimed "over 25,000"[22] or between 30,000 and 40,000 people were killed.[6] Twenty years later, Syrian journalist Subhi Hadidi, wrote that forces "under the command of General Ali Haydar, besieged the city for 27 days, bombarding it with heavy artillery and tank [fire], before invading it and killing 30,000 or 40,000 of the city's citizens – in addition to the 15,000 missing who have not been found to this day, and the 100,000 expelled."[2]

Aftermath

After the Hama uprising, the Islamist insurrection was broken, and the Brotherhood has since operated in exile while other factions surrendered or slipped into hiding. Government attitudes in Syria hardened considerably during the uprising, and Assad would rely more on repression than on political tactics for the remainder of his rule, although an economic liberalization began in the 1990s.[23]

After the massacre, the already evident disarray in the insurgents' ranks increased, and the rebel factions experienced acrimonious internal splits. Particularly damaging to their cause was the deterrent effect of the massacre, as well as the realization that no Sunni uprisings had occurred in the rest of the country in support of the Hama rebels. Most members of the rebel groups fled the country or remained in exile, mainly in Jordan and Iraq, while others would make their way to the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.[24] The Muslim Brotherhood—the largest opposition group—split into two factions, after giving up on armed struggle. One, more moderate and recognized by the international Muslim Brotherhood, eventually headquartered itself in the UK where it remains, while another for several years retained a military structure in Iraq, with backing from the government, before rejoining the London-based mainstream.

The Hama massacre is often raised in indictment of the Assad government's poor human rights record.[13][25] Within Syria, mention of the massacre has been strictly suppressed, although the general contours of the events—and various partisan versions, on all sides—are well known throughout the country. When the massacre is publicly referenced, it is only as the "events" or "incident" at Hama.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Fisk 2010
  2. ^ a b c MEMRI 2002
  3. ^ a b "Syria: Bloody Challenge to Assad". Time. 8 March 1982.
  4. ^ a b JOHN KIFNER, Special to the New York Times (12 February 1982). "Syrian Troops Are Said To Battle Rebels Encircled In Central City". The New York Times. Hama (Syria); Syria. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  5. ^ New York Times 2011 March 26
  6. ^ a b Syrian Human Rights Committee, 2005
  7. ^ a b Wright 2008: 243-244
  8. ^ Fisk, Robert. 1990. Pity the Nation. London: Touchstone, ISBN 0-671-74770-3.
  9. ^ [The New York Times. 24 Feb 1982. Syria Offers Picture of Hama Revolt]
  10. ^ a b Seale 1989: 93
  11. ^ Seale 1989: 37, 93, 148, 171
  12. ^ a b Seale 1989: 335-337
  13. ^ a b Human Rights Watch 1996
  14. ^ a b Seale 1989: 332-333
  15. ^ Fisk 1990: 185–86
  16. ^ Reports of cyanide gas being used, SHRC, archived from the original on 25 March 2011
  17. ^ Benjamin and Simon 2002: 86
  18. ^ Melman, Yosi (19 May 2011). "Tanks finally get their thanks". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  19. ^ Fisk 1990: 186
  20. ^ Fisk 2007
  21. ^ From Beirut to Jerusalem, pp. 76–105
  22. ^ Syrian Human Rights Committee, 2006.
  23. ^ US Dept. of State, country profile
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ Human Rights Watch, 2010

Bibliography

Further reading

  • Kathrin Nina Wiedl: The Hama Massacre – reasons, supporters of the rebellion, consequences. München 2007, ISBN 978-3-638-71034-3.
  • The Economist (16 November 2000) Is Syria really changing?, London: 'Syria’s Islamist movement has recently shown signs of coming back to life, nearly 20 years after 30,000 people were brutally massacred in Hama in 1982' The Economist
  • Routledge (10 January 2000) Summary of the 10 January 2002, Roundtable on Militant Islamic Fundamentalism in the Twenty-First Century, Volume 24, Number 3 / 1 June 2002: Pages:187 – 205
  • Jack Donnelly (1988) Human Rights at the United Nations 1955–85: The Question of Bias, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 3 (Sep., 1988), pp. 275–303
  • More Detailed Account of the actual Hama Massacre and Killings
  • NSArchive
  • Fisk, Robert. 1997 January 19. A LAND IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH. The Independent (UK) (paragraph recollecting insurgency and reaction).
10th Mechanised Division (Syria)

The 10th Mechanised Division is a division of the Syrian Arab Army, currently engaged in the Syrian Civil War.

In Lebanon in 1982, the 10th Armoured Division was deployed south of the Beirut-Damascus road, and inside Beirut, and consisted of the 76th and 91st Tank Brigades – equipped with T-62s and BMP-1s – and the 85th Mechanized Brigade, equipped with T-55s and BTR-60s. The division was also assigned control of the 20th Commando Battalion as well.

The same year the division was reported to have taken place in the 1982 Hama massacre.

In 2001 Richard Bennett's estimate of the Army order of battle reported that the 10th Mechanized Division was headquartered in Shtoura, Lebanon, part of the 2nd Corps. Its main units [were in 2001] deployed to control the strategic Beirut-Damascus highway with the 123rd Mechanized Brigade near Yanta, the 51st Armored Brigade near Zahle in the Beqaa Valley and the 85th Armored Brigade, deployed around the complex of positions at Dahr al-Baidar.

In Syria, the division was reported to have become involved in the two battles in al-Qusayr starting on 19 May 2013, as part of the larger al-Qusayr offensive, launched in early April 2013 by the Syrian Army and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, with the aim of capturing the villages around the rebel-held town of al-Qusayr and ultimately launching an attack on the town itself. al-Qusayr is in Homs Governorate, near the border with Lebanon. The region was strategically important as a supply route for rebels fighting Syrian government forces in Homs, and for its proximity to government-supporting areas along the coast.

In January 2016, a cover photo for a Sputnik news article, showing an artillery battery, was captioned as 130-mm guns of the 10th Division, 2nd Corps, near Katana, Damascus Governorate.In course of the Ithriyah-Raqqa offensive in 2016, the division's chief-of-staff, Major General Hassan Saado, was killed.

1999 Latakia protests

The 1999 Latakia protests (or 1999 Latakia incident) were violent protests and armed clashes, which erupted in Latakia, Syria following 1998 People's Assembly's Elections. The violent events were an explosion of a long-running feud between Hafez al-Assad and his younger brother Rifaat. Two people were killed in fire exchanges of Syrian police and Rifaat's supporters during police crack-down on Rifaat's port compound in Latakia. According to opposition sources, denied by the government, the protests left hundreds of dead or injured.

Al-Assad family

The al-Assad family (Arabic: عَائِلَة الْأَسَد‎ ʿāʾilah al-ʾAsad) has ruled Syria since Hafez al-Assad became President of Syria in 1971 and established an authoritarian government under the control of the Ba'ath Party. After his death in 2000, his son Bashar succeeded him.The Assads are originally from Qardaha, just east of Latakia in north-west Syria. They are members of the minority Alawite sect and belong to the Kalbiyya tribe. The family name Assad goes back to 1927, when Ali Sulayman (1875–1963) changed his last name to al-Assad, which means "the lion" in Arabic, possibly in connection with his social standing as a local mediator and his political activities. All members of the extended Assad family stem from Ali Sulayman and his second wife Naissa, who came from a village in the An-Nusayriyah Mountains.Family connections continue to be important in Syrian politics. Several close family members of Hafez al-Assad have held important positions in the government since his rise to power and continuing after his death.

Bedouin

The Bedouin or Bedu (; Arabic: بَدْو‎ badw, singular بَدَوِي badawī) are a grouping of nomadic Arab people who have historically inhabited the desert regions in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and the Levant. The English word bedouin comes from the Arabic badawī, which means "desert dweller", and is traditionally contrasted with ḥāḍir, the term for sedentary people. Bedouin territory stretches from the vast deserts of North Africa to the rocky sands of the Middle East. They are traditionally divided into tribes, or clans (known in Arabic as ʿašāʾir; عَشَائِر), and share a common culture of herding camels and goats. The vast majority of Bedouin adhere to Islam.Bedouins have been referred to by various names throughout history, including Qedarites in the Old Testament and Arabaa by the Assyrians (ar-ba-a-a being a nisba of the noun Arab, a name still used for Bedouins today). They are referred to as the ʾAʿrāb (أعراب) in the Quran.

While many Bedouins have abandoned their nomadic and tribal traditions for a modern urban lifestyle, many retain traditional Bedouin culture such as retaining the traditional ʿašāʾir clan structure, traditional music, poetry, dances (such as saas), and many other cultural practices and concepts. Urbanised Bedouins often organise cultural festivals, usually held several times a year, in which they gather with other Bedouins to partake in and learn about various Bedouin traditions—from poetry recitation and traditional sword dances to playing traditional instruments and even classes teaching traditional tent knitting. Traditions like camel riding and camping in the deserts are still popular leisure activities for urbanised Bedouins who live within close proximity to deserts or other wilderness areas.

Counter-insurgency

A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency (COIN) is defined by the United States Department of State as "comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes". An insurgency is a rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. It is "the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify or challenge political control of a region. As such, it is primarily a political struggle, in which both sides use armed force to create space for their political, economic and influence activities to be effective."

Counter-insurgency campaigns of duly-elected or politically recognized governments take place during war, occupation by a foreign military or police force, and when internal conflicts that involve subversion and armed rebellion occur. The most effective counterinsurgency campaigns "integrate and synchronize political, security, economic, and informational components that reinforce governmental legitimacy and effectiveness while reducing insurgent influence over the population. COIN strategies should be designed to simultaneously protect the population from insurgent violence; strengthen the legitimacy and capacity of government institutions to govern responsibly and marginalize insurgents politically, socially, and economically."

European strategic intelligence and security center

The European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center (ESISC) is a self-described think tank and lobbying group dealing with issues related to terrorism and security. ESISC notes on its website that its "lobbying operations can defend an industrial portfolio, the economic opening of a new market, or the political interests of a state."

February 2

February 2 is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 332 days remaining until the end of the year (333 in leap years).

Hama

Hama (Arabic: حماة‎ Ḥamāh, [ħaˈmaː]; Syriac: ܚܡܬ‎ Ḥmṭ, "fortress"; Biblical Hebrew: חֲמָת Ḥamāth) is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria. It is located 213 km (132 mi) north of Damascus and 46 kilometres (29 mi) north of Homs. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate. With a population of 854,000 (2009 census), Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria after Damascus, Aleppo and Homs.The city is renowned for its seventeen norias used for watering the gardens, which are locally claimed to date back to 1100 BC. Though historically used for purpose of irrigation, the norias exist today as an almost entirely aesthetic traditional show.

Iran–Syria relations

Syria and Iran are strategic allies. Syria is usually called Iran's "closest ally", with ideological conflict between the Arab nationalism ideology of Syria's secular ruling Ba'ath Party and the Islamic Republic of Iran's pan-Islamist policy notwithstanding. Iran and Syria have had a strategic alliance ever since the Iran–Iraq War, when Syria sided with non-Arab Iran against its fellow Baath-ruled neighbor but enemy Iraq was isolated by some Arab countries. The two countries shared a common animosity towards then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and coordination against the United States and Israel. Syria cooperates with Iran in sending arms to Palestinian groups and Hezbollah in Lebanon, since Israel has attacked Syria. During the Syrian Civil War Iran conducted, alongside Russia, "an extensive, expensive, and integrated effort to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power." Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Russia also form an anti-terrorism alliance that has its headquarters in Baghdad. The United States and the United Kingdom have designated both nations of Iran and Syria as State Sponsors of Terrorism and listed under axis of evil, due to their alleged terrorist activities.

Islamist uprising in Syria

The Islamist uprising in Syria comprised a series of revolts and armed insurgencies by Sunni Islamists, mainly members of the Muslim Brotherhood from 1976 until 1982. The uprising was aimed against the authority of the secular Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria, in what has been called a "long campaign of terror". During the violent events Islamists attacked both civilians and off-duty military personnel, and civilians were also killed in retaliatory strike by security forces. The uprising reached its climax in the 1982 Hama massacre.

June 1980 assassination attempt on Hafez al-Assad

On 26 June 1980, an assassination attempt on Hafez al-Assad, the Syrian president, was carried out by Muslim Brotherhood supporters who threw two grenades and fired machine gun bursts at him as he waited for an African diplomat in the Guest Palace in Damascus. Assad kicked one grenade out of range, whilst one of Assad's bodyguards threw himself on the other grenade.

The attack came in the context of the Islamist uprising in Syria. The attack on the president prompted a series of deadly retaliation by the government troops, most notably the Tadmor prison massacre, carried out the next day. Ten days later Law No. 49 was passed, making membership of the Muslim Brotherhood a capital offense punishable by death.

Ribal al-Assad

Ribal al-Assad (born 4 June 1975) is a Syrian businessman and political activist. He is the Founder and Director of the Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria (ODFS) and the Chairman and Founder of The Iman Foundation.

Rifaat al-Assad

Rifaat Ali al-Assad (Arabic: رفعت علي الأسد‎; born 22 August 1937) is the younger brother of the former President of Syria, Hafez Assad and Jamil Assad, and the uncle of the incumbent President Bashar al-Assad. He is alleged by some sources to be the commanding officer responsible for the Hama massacre of 1982. Recently declassified material back his claims that his brother Hafez al-Assad was responsible, as do a number of commentators. Despite accusations, Rifaat has always denied culpability. He currently lives in France.

Sabra and Shatila massacre

The Sabra and Shatila massacre (also known as the Sabra and Chatila massacre) was the killing of between 460 and 3,500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, by a militia close to the Kataeb Party, also called Phalange, a predominantly Christian Lebanese right-wing party in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. From approximately 18:00 on 16 September to 08:00 on 18 September 1982, a widespread massacre was carried out by the militia under the eyes of their Israeli allies. The Phalanges, allies to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), were ordered by the IDF to clear out Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters from Sabra and Shatila, as part of the IDF maneuvering into West Beirut. The IDF received reports of some of the Phalanges atrocities in Sabra and Shatila but failed to stop them.The massacre was presented as retaliation for the assassination of newly elected Lebanese president Bachir Gemayel, the leader of the Lebanese Kataeb Party. It was wrongly assumed by the Phalangists that Palestinian militants had carried out the assassination. In June 1982, the Israel Defense Forces had invaded Lebanon with the intention of rooting out the PLO. By mid-1982, under the supervision of the Multinational Force, the PLO withdrew from Lebanon following weeks of battles in West Beirut and shortly before the massacre took place. Various forces — Israeli, Phalangists and possibly also the South Lebanon Army (SLA) — were in the vicinity of Sabra and Shatila at the time of the slaughter, taking advantage of the fact that the Multinational Force had removed barracks and mines that had encircled Beirut's predominantly Muslim neighborhoods and kept the Israelis at bay during the Beirut siege. The Israeli advance over West Beirut in the wake of the PLO withdrawal, which enabled the Phalangist raid, was considered a violation of the ceasefire agreement between the various forces. The Israeli Army surrounded Sabra and Shatila and stationed troops at the exits of the area to prevent camp residents from leaving and, at the Phalangists' request, fired illuminating flares at night.According to Alain Menargues, the direct perpetrators of the killings were the "Young Men", a gang recruited by Elie Hobeika, a prominent figure in the Phalanges, the Lebanese Forces intelligence chief and liaison officer with Mossad, from men who had been expelled from the Lebanese Forces for insubordination or criminal activities. The killings are widely believed to have taken place under Hobeika's direct orders. Hobeika's family and fiancée had been murdered by Palestinian militiamen, and their Lebanese allies, at the Damour massacre of 1976, itself a response to the 1976 Karantina massacre of Palestinians and Lebanese Muslims at the hands of Christian militants. Hobeika later became a long-serving Member of the Parliament of Lebanon and served in several ministerial roles. Other Phalangist commanders involved were Joseph Edde from South Lebanon, Dib Anasta, head of the Phalangist Military Police, Michael Zouein, and Maroun Mischalani from East Beirut. In all 300–400 militiamen were involved, including some from Sa'ad Haddad's South Lebanon Army.In 1983, a commission chaired by Seán MacBride, the assistant to the UN Secretary General and President of United Nations General Assembly at the time, concluded that Israel, as the camp's occupying power, bore responsibility for the violence. The commission also concluded that the massacre was a form of genocide.In 1983, the Israeli Kahan Commission, appointed to investigate the incident, found that Israeli military personnel, aware that a massacre was in progress, had failed to take serious steps to stop it. The commission deemed Israel indirectly responsible, and Ariel Sharon, then Defense Minister, bore personal responsibility "for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge", forcing him to resign.

Shia–Sunni relations

Shia and Sunni Islam are the two major denominations of Islam. They chose sides following the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in AD 632. A dispute over succession to Islamic prophet Muhammad as a caliph of the Islamic community spread across various parts of the world, which led to the Battle of Jamal and Battle of Siffin. The dispute intensified greatly after the Battle of Karbala, in which Hussein ibn Ali and his household were killed by the ruling Umayyad Caliph Yazid I, and the outcry for revenge divided the early Islamic community.

The present demographic breakdown between the two denominations is difficult to assess and varies by source, but a good approximation is that 85% of the world's Muslims are Sunni and 15% are Shia Muslims and with most Shias belonging to the Twelver tradition and the rest divided between many other groups. Sunnis are a majority in most Muslim communities: in Southeast Asia, China, South Asia, Africa, and a part of the Arab world. Shia make up the majority of the citizen population in Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, Iran and Azerbaijan, as well as being a politically significant minority in Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Kuwait.Today, there are differences in religious practice, traditions, and customs, often related to jurisprudence. Although all Muslim groups consider the Quran to be divine, Sunni and Shia have different opinions on hadith.

In recent years, Sunni–Shia relations have been increasingly marked by conflict, particularly the Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict. Sectarian violence persists to this day from Pakistan to Yemen and is a major element of friction throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Tensions between communities have intensified during power struggles, such as the Bahraini uprising, the Iraq War, the Syrian Civil War and the formation of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that has launched a genocide against Shias.

Siege of Hama

Siege of Hama may refer to:

Battle of Hamath

1964 Hama riot

1982 Hama massacre

Siege of Hama (2011)

Siege of Hama (2011)

The Siege of Hama (2011) was among the nationwide crackdowns by the Syrian Government during the early stage of the Syrian Civil War. Anti-government protests had been ongoing in the Syrian city of Hama since 15 March 2011, when large protests were first reported in the city, similar to the protests elsewhere in Syria as part of the wider Syrian Civil War. The events beginning in July 2011, were described by anti-government activists in the city as a "siege" or "blockade".On 1 July, with more than 400,000 protestors, Hama witnessed the largest demonstration against Bashar al-Assad. Two days later, Syrian tanks deployed at Hama, in an operation that led to more than 16 civilian deaths at the hands of Syrian security forces.On 31 July, the Government of Syria sent the Syrian Army into Hama to control protests on the eve of Ramadan, as part of a nationwide crackdown, nicknamed the "Ramadan Massacre." At least 142 people across Syria died on that day, including over 100 in Hama alone, and 29 in Deir ez-Zor. Hundreds more have been wounded. By 4 August, more than 200 civilians had been killed in Hama.

Syria

Syria (Arabic: سوريا‎ Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية‎ al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Syria is a unitary republic consisting of 14 governorates and is the only country that politically espouses Ba'athism. It is a member of one international organization other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement; it has become suspended from the Arab League on November 2011 and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and self-suspended from the Union for the Mediterranean.In English, the name "Syria" was formerly synonymous with the Levant (known in Arabic as al-Sham), while the modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. Aleppo and the capital city Damascus are among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In the Islamic era, Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt. The modern Syrian state was established in mid-20th century after centuries of Ottoman and a brief period French mandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Syrian provinces. It gained de-jure independence as a parliamentary republic on 24 October 1945, when Republic of Syria became a founding member of the United Nations, an act which legally ended the former French Mandate – although French troops did not leave the country until April 1946. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–71. In 1958, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt called the United Arab Republic, which was terminated by the 1961 Syrian coup d'état. The republic was renamed into the Arab Republic of Syria in late 1961 after December 1 constitutional referendum, and was increasingly unstable until the 1963 Ba'athist coup d'état, since which the Ba'ath Party has maintained its power. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens. Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office from 1971 to 2000.

Since March 2011, Syria has been embroiled in an armed conflict, with a number of countries in the region and beyond involved militarily or otherwise. As a result, a number of self-proclaimed political entities have emerged on Syrian territory, including the Syrian opposition, Rojava, Tahrir al-Sham and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Syria is ranked last on the Global Peace Index, making it the most violent country in the world due to the war, although life continues normally for most of its citizens as of December 2017. The war caused more than 470,000 deaths (February 2016 SCPR estimate), 7.6 million internally displaced people (July 2015 UNHCR estimate) and over 5 million refugees (July 2017 registered by UNHCR), making population assessment difficult in recent years.

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