Mehr News Agency  and Fars News Agency  yesterday reported that “terrorist armed groups” from the Islam Brigade and Jabhat Al-Nusra had “executed 80 civilians” in the town of ‘Adra, near Damascus. The reports are based on a report by the Russian state TV Russia Today , which is in turn based on a report by the Syrian state news agency SANA and “sources in the Syrian military.”
THE TRUTH IS: There has been fierce fighting between the Syrian opposition and regime forces to capture ‘Adra, which occupies a strategic position on the way between Damascus and Homs and is home to many high-ranking Syrian military officers. The town was heavily bombarded by the regime’s artillery as the fighting started on the outskirts. Both SANA  and Hezbollah Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV  reported that the Syrian army had launched a “crushing operation against terrorists in Adra City.” The regime forces were backed by soldiers (probably serving their compulsory military service) from the Palestinian Liberation Army, which has been stationed in the area for years.
The opposition fighters, according to their own sites and Facebook pages, executed 12 (some said 14) regime fighters they had captured in the battle. Later reports named 35 soldiers, while regime loyalist Facebook pages talked about “90 Assad soldiers”, including six high-ranking officers. Not 80, not civilians. Also, those killed reportedly belonged to different religious sects, and many were Sunni. So the usual accusation of sectarian killing by the Islamist Jihadists does not really hold in this case.
But you don’t need all these details to get a sense of the inaccuracy of the Russian and Iranian reports: Russia Today’s presenter says at the beginning of his introduction that the “massacre” was committed by militants “linked to Al-Qaeda” (i.e. Jabhat Al-Nusra), even though the correspondent later says they were from the Islam Brigade (Liwa’ Al-Islam). Now, Liwa’ Al-Islam recently merged with other Islamic armed groups to form the Islam Army (Jaysh Al-Islam) and later the Islamic Front (Al-Jabha Al-Islamiyya). So it does not fight under the Liwa’ Al-Islam name any more. Furthermore, the Brigade has never had links to Al-Qaeda, and there is big difference (and conflict) between it and Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is often linked to Al-Qaeda.
Finally, these reports would not, of course, mention the equally horrific killings by the regime forces in ‘Adra. A video posted by local Coordination Committees shows opposition forces arriving at some dark place to discover the corpses of 11 people (and one alive) in the snow, with their hands tied behind their backs, who had been arrested at a check point and executed by the regime, then dumped in a rubbish dump. You can watch the video on Youtube if you can bear the horrible images:
Reoprt from Naame Shaam’s correspondent in Damscus, Syria.