The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Four years after poison gas massacre in Aqirbat which killed nearly 55 people | Regime forces and Iranian-backed militias wreak havoc and destruction in eastern Hama

The 12th of December marks the fourth anniversary of the massacre in the eastern countryside of Hama, in which dozens of civilians were killed and wounded. On this day in 2016, regime jets targeted the area of Aqirbaat and villages in its countryside, east of Hama, with missiles loaded with poison gases. The attack claimed the lives of 53 people, including 16 children and 12 women, according to SOHR statistics. It is worth nothing that the area was under the control of ISIS, while this heinous massacre had not received attention by the international actors at the time.

With the regime forces and allied militias’ control of the area in the fall of 2017, the area has been experiencing security chaos, particularly with the escalating activities of ISIS cells there.

Although towns and villages are almost empty, pro-Iranian militias have wreaked havoc destruction by demolishing civilians’ homes and stealing their contents, as well as forcing the remaining people to flee. In addition, violations against the nomadic Bedouins in the area, where the Syrian Observatory has documented several massacres against them and the theft of their livestock.

On September 29, Syrian Observatory sources reported that gunmen of Iranian-backed militias, stationed in Al-Fasedah area in south-eastern Al-Sa’an in Hama desert, opened machinegun fire on civilians shepherding sheep in the area. The attack resulted in the death of at least nine people, while seven others were injured, some seriously.

On June 16, the Syrian desert experienced a similar massacre executed by regime-backed militias against civilian shepherds, while ISIS was always blamed for such massacres. SOHR sources reported at that time that unidentified gunmen killed four shepherds, stole their sheep and set agricultural crops on fire, in Badiyat al-Ghanem al-Ali area controlled by regime forces and loyalists in eastern Al-Raqqa province.