The Society’s Holocaust
First: Introduction and Terminology
Over the past four years, thousands of massacres have been perpetrated in Syria. However, there are some massacres that involve certain patterns and practices where the aggressor forces don’t only kill victims by shooting them but carry out other criminal acts such as slaughtering whole families, including women, children and women, burning bodies, deforming bodies, sexual crimes, looting and burning homes. All of these crimes possess sectarian or ethnic traits.
From March 2011 until June 2013, no other party other than government forces, or its local and foreign militias, has perpetrated this kind of massacres. Government forces perpetrated 35 massacres that involved a pattern of sectarian killing. Nevertheless, other parties, such as extremist groups, armed opposition, or Kurdish self-administrated forces, have resorted to this form of primitive sectarian and ethnic violence although government forces and its allies remain the most major perpetrator as it perpetrated 87% of such crimes.
It is clear that the Syrian authority is trying to provoke the other party to commit such crimes in light of the lack of any form of accountability on the international community’s part or the Security Council’s willingness to stop these massacres which some of were perpetrated before the eyes of the Arab and international monitors’ as well as the whole world. This drove some of the opposing Syrian Sunnis to resort to extreme measures and redefine itself and the ongoing conflict based on sectarian affiliations after it entered this conflict based on political reasons.
In previous studies, we referred to the foreign militias that are fighting with the regime as “Shiite militias” given that most of its leaders and fighters are known to be affiliated to the Shiite groups which was what our friends at Amnesty International did too. Also, we referred to Daesh and An-Nussra Front as “Sunni” factions considering that most of these two factions’ fighters and leaders are Sunnis.
A small comparison between the former factions and militias on one hand and the local militias the other fighting with government forces, whether it was Shiite or Alawite, on the other hand shows that the sectarian allegiances are similar of these groups are similar to that of the Shiite militias or the Jihadist groups. However, it is not possible to describe it as sectarian due to the fact that we have no knowledge of its hierarchy and its leaders’ sectarian affiliations. Therefore, we will refer to it as “local militias” instead of Alawite or Shiite militias in this report.