Middle East

Syria: Days of torture haunt survivor of Hama massacre

Only those who could escape from Hama city survived 1982 massacre carried out by Syrian regime forces, says eyewitness

Ahmet Karaahmet and Ethem Emre Ozcan   | 16.02.2021
Syria: Days of torture haunt survivor of Hama massacre


The slaughtering of civilians in Syria’s Hama province in 1982 by the regime of former President Hafez al-Assad, the father of incumbent Bashar al-Assad, is still haunting Azzam Ibeysi, 39 years after the massacre.

“On the 4th day of the massacre, our district was besieged and regime soldiers started raiding the houses. Soldiers began to shoot men, old people, and children in front of their homes,” Ibeysi, 62, told Anadolu Agency.

“When we left our house the next day, we saw that there were dead bodies everywhere in the city. There were also wounded people, but no one dared to approach them for treatment as our district was surrounded by soldiers. The bodies remained on the streets for at least a week. Later, the bodies were buried en masse”, Ibeysi recalled.

He said that 13 young people from his relatives were killed by the regime forces in the massacre.

“They murdered thousands of people, including women, children, young and old people,” he said. “The corpses of children with severed limbs still haunt my dreams. The regime did not see us as human beings.”

Regime forces detained at least 15,000 people and took them to Tadmor (Palmyra) prison in Homs province, Ibeysi said. “Only those who could escape from the city survived the massacre. I was also one of them.”

“We wished that the international community to be fair to the people of Hama, but unfortunately it was not. International justice did not give us our rights. The perpetrators of the massacre were not tried by international courts,” he lamented.

Between Feb. 2-28, 1982, a massacre was committed in the Syrian city of Hama when al-Assad demolished the city to crush a Sunni rebellion, slaughtering an estimated 20,000 of his own people.

In an operation led by al-Assad’s brother, Rifaat al-Assad, Hama city was cordoned off and bombed before troops stormed in to slaughter civilians.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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