In Syria, on May 12, foreign-backed opposition groups, the so-called “moderate rebels,” attacked an Alawite town, al-Zara, in the countryside of Homs, massacring 115 civilians. According to Hasan Sivri, a reporter with the YDH news agency based in Turkey, the attack was led by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusrah Front and included other groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, another Al-Qaeda splinter group and ahl Al-Sunna Battalions.
Reflecting the sinister aim of terrorizing the town’s residents, the attack was code-named “Aleppo’s revenge”, an allusion to the recent liberation of a number of villages in Aleppo by the Syrian government.
In addition to the massacre of civilians, the assailants abducted a group of children and women and destroyed houses and stores in the town. Based on the photos and videos shared by the members of these groups on social media, there were claims that chemical weapons may have been used in the attack, given that victims’ bodies appeared to look as if they were sleeping.
Reporting on the massacre, Aleppo-based journalist Kevork Elmasyan stated that what happened in al-Zara was not a massacre but rather “genocide.” In a press statement released after the attack, the Prime Minister of Syria, Wael al-Halqi called the massacre “a heinous crime against the whole world.” Al-Halqi added that the international community should take immediate steps to prevent the flow of arms and money to the terror groups in Syria from their foreign sponsors, particularly Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Hundreds in Istanbul, Turkey attended a demonstration denouncing the massacre. The press statement released after the demonstration said:
“Alawites have been massacred again in the Syrian war that has been going on for five years as the U.S, E.U., the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to provide logistics, arms and fighters […] Gangs of massacre, the moderate rebels, as AKP and imperialists refer to them, destroyed an Alawite town, massacring its residents. Ahrar al-Sham and other gangs behind this massacre are directly supported by imperialists and their servant, AKP.”
It is striking to note that one day before the attack, a coalition of Western powers led by the U.S. and including Britain, France and Ukraine blocked an earlier Russian proposal from late April to the U.N. Security Council to blacklist Ahrah al-Sham. In a total display of hypocrisy, the U.S. mission to the UN opposed the Russian proposal on grounds that blacklisting Ahrah al-Sham would undermine a sustained ceasefire in the fighting in Syria.
Given the role played by U.S. proxies in the region, namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, in arming and supporting the “moderate rebels” in Syria, it is clear that the real criminal behind this recent massacre is U.S. imperialism along with its lackeys in the region. It is also clear that the real force that is undermining any possibility of a complete ceasefire in Syria is the U.S. itself and the main agenda of U.S. imperialism continues to be the overthrow of the sovereign government of Syria. It is critical that progressive people do everything they can to oppose this imperialist agenda.