Bodies of at least 65 young men are pulled from river in Syria following 'mass execution' - Middle East - World - The Independent

Bodies of at least 65 young men are pulled from river in Syria following 'mass execution'

Chilling scenes greeted the city of Aleppo as dozens of bodies were dragged from a river and lined up on the bank

Beirut

The bodies of dozens of executed young men were discovered in a small canal in the Syrian city of Aleppo, before being dragged out and lined up on the muddy riverbank in a chilling scene that underscored the brutality of the country’s grinding civil war.

Foreign journalists were able to access the area and verify reports from rebels and activists that at least 65 corpses had been found in the Quweiq River in Bustan al-Qasr. An Agence France Presse correspondent at the scene said 78 bodies were recovered by the end of the day, with more still in the water, unable to be retrieved due to sniper fire.

In a haunting video posted by activists a cameraman picks his way through the bodies at the riverside. Bloated and mud-caked, many had their hands bound and appeared to have bullet wounds to the head, still seeping blood. After zooming in on 37 corpses – some of whom appear to be in their teens, dressed in jeans and trainers – he lifts his camera to the riverbank in front of him, where at least a dozen more bodies lie in the distance.

Residents gathered at the riverbank to search for missing loved ones.

“My brother disappeared weeks ago when he was crossing [through] the regime-held zone, and we don’t know where he is or what has become of him,” Mohammed Abdel Aziz told AFP as he examined the bodies.

The area of Bustan al-Qasr, a neighbourhood just northeast of the key battleground of Salaheddine, remains contested and has been the scene of intense battles and airstrikes since Aleppo was convulsed by fighting in July.

The city remains divided, as neither side appears able to take the upper hand in the street battles. The 129-mile Quweiq River begins in Turkey and travels through government and rebel held districts of Aleppo before it reaches Bustan al-Qasr.

It remains unclear who the men were, as none were carrying identification.

Both sides have been accused of committing summary executions in the past. While activists and rebels squarely blamed the government, speculating that the men may have been killed further upstream, a regime official told news agencies that the men had been kidnapped by “terrorists” for being pro-government and had been executed in a park on Monday night.

“Now these terrorist groups are creating a media campaign, showing the bodies being recovered from the Quweiq River in an area under their control,” he said.

“Their families had made repeated attempts to negotiate their releases. We will disclose the identities of those killed as soon as we are able to secure the bodies.”

Over the past 22-months the Syrian conflict has morphed from a popular uprising into a multifaceted and increasingly sectarian war, claiming more than 60,000 lives. 

Activists said the bodies were loaded onto trucks and taken away to be identified.

Another video showed the bodies of seven men piled into the back of a truck, one with a gaping wound in his head, eight more lying in the street, some covered with tarpaulin as crowds milled around. The video cuts to others in a pool of blood-stained water in the back of a white flatbed truck.

“They were killed only because they are Muslims,” said a bearded man in another video, speaking in front of a pickup truck piled with bodies.

Though corpses of men killed execution-style have been discovered in the city before, this was by far the largest mass killing to be publicised, adding Aleppo’s Bustan al-Qasr to the string of place names that will be remembered for the atrocities that took place there.

“This is another new massacre that has been committed in Syria, adding to the constant massacres that have been occurring, while the world watches silently and the international and Arab community are being hypocrites,” the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in astatement. The Local Coordination Committees put the death toll across the country at 157, including 80 dead in Bustan al-Qasr.

AFP correspondent Antonio Rodriguez told The Independent that he had counted 78 bodies that had been pulled from the river in a makeshift morgue at the nearby Yarmuk School. “There were 78 corpses in four rows and covered with blue sheets, beside them a number,” he said.

“Families came to identify them. Most of the dead had a single shot to the head, and his hands tied behind his back, leaving no doubt that they were executed.”

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week