This is Part 1 of a documentary series by investigative reporter Ugarit Dandash, the documentary is part of Ms. Dandash’s From the Ground documentary series where she reports from Syria the horrors the Syrian people lived inflicted on them by the USA and all its cronies, lackeys, and stooges combined efforts over the past 9 years.
From the Ground – The Syrian War through the Eyes of Forensic Medicine was made exclusively for the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news station in Arabic. It was aired on Thursday night 19 March 2020.
All countries which supported the ‘freedom fighters’, ‘armed opposition’, ‘moderate rebels’, call them whatever Orwellian name that suits you, are an accomplice in each crime committed against the Syrian people, needless to say, that each taxpayer and each citizen of those countries has much blood on their hands especially those who keep quiet hiding behind the ‘democracy elections’ delusion while their governments kill in their names, murder using their money, destroy families and hide behind the ‘democracy’ slogan, and not being held by those citizens for the crimes they committed all over the world. If you didn’t know for over 9 years what your government did in Syria, this will leave you with no excuse.
The video file size is beyond the capacity of our site, our YouTube channel was long deleted by YouTube, so we had to split it into two parts embedded below, followed by the transcript in English of the full video for history. Please excuse any typos, it was definitely unintentional.
Part 1 of 2, Episode 1:
Part 2 of 2, Episode 1:
For Episode 2:
English translation transcript:
The War in the Eyes of Forensic Medicine – 1
Report by Ugarit Dandash
During the years of the war in Syria, forensics carried out its traditional role which people know and carried out an unconventional role handling the war-related cases which the forensic medicine dealt with during the wartime.
The forensic medicine has presented much, within a short period of time, we inspected 230407 cases of martyrs and injured, despite the low number of forensic doctors in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Forensic Medicine, like all other sectors, suffered bleeding, we had martyrs among the doctors and forensic employees, in addition to the immigration of a number of the forensic doctors, and despite that the forensic medicine carried out its role completely, work more like a miracle and this is what the viewers will notice when they watch this episode.
It managed to reveal the facts, reveal the right and justice, there’s a misconception among some who are uninformed that the forensic doctor only inspects the body and writes the report then their role ends, no, there are rights, legal, humanitarian, and moral consequences based on the report of the forensic doctor. The matter is of high sensitivity and importance. There are many news flashes that appear on the screen but many people do not read what’s beyond it and do not read its hidden nature, they do not know that forensic medicine was the main source of information for this news. Forensic Medicine managed to reveal the truth and push away the exiting ambiguity, this forensic medicine carried out a great role during the wartime.
Like all people on the streets we used to receive the echo of the events that there were protesters and they were shot at by the authorities, the army men were shooting them, or they were shot from a close distance, but as professionals dealing with bodies, the body was giving us indications of what was actually going on.
We were not in the picture of the events we were always coming after, at the beginning of the crisis when bodies were reaching us in 2011 we noticed that the gunshots were coming from long distances and from high directions, meaning that there was a sniper in a building somewhere about 50 or 60 meters away and on the 4th or 5th floor of a building, as in one of the bodies, it was definitely not shot from a close distance.
In the second stage when there were strict orders for riot policemen not to carry their weapons, I remember that in one Friday I wrote 125 reports for members of the riot policemen beaten with sticks and stones, and after a while we started getting law enforcement members shot in addition to some civilians, we were saying if those law enforcement members were doing the shooting then who shot them? They started telling that their colleagues were shooting them because they refused to shoot!
In the next stage we started noting the use of Pump-Action shotguns, it’s a type of hunting rifles. I believe there is no regular army that carries this type of rifle. Some might ask why Pump-Action rifles? This rifle doesn’t need a professional to use it, once fired from the shot comes out with a conical diameter and hits a number of people, we also noticed several bodies with gunshot marks from the hunting rifles and also we noticed it was struck by torturing tools like large stones, knives, or machetes. We were seeing gunshot marks on the body and next to it marks indicating the use of sharp tools.
There are always vital signs accompanying the wound that occurs only when the person is alive, When a person is injured while they are alive, the wound bleeds, clotting factors act, and reactions occur in the body, such as a crunch and inflammation, while we don’t see all these symptoms when the deceased person is injured, the knife stab is like a stab in a doll, or a stab in a sponge. the vital signs of relapse do not appear, and the blood is a fluid that does not coagulate; for us, these things are simple and we can tell that these wounds were inflicted on the person after death, because we started seeing the abuse and mutilation of corpses.
Each stage lasted about two weeks, then after a month and a half between the end of April and the beginning of May 2011 kidnapping and torture stage started. A body would arrive at the morgue, it would be handcuffed or blindfolded, and there would be other marks of a gunshot or slaughter or killing or mutilation.
After about 1.5 months or two months the kidnapping, torture and killing stage started. Even the kidnapping was gradual, at first the victim would be covered with his own cloth and strangled with what he was wearing, then we started seeing bodies tied up by iron skewers then by plastic handcuffs, you’d notice that there’s more planning and more organizing in this thing.
Forensic medicine was able to block all the doors in their faces in many of the situations.
Question: There was always doubting in any reports and whatever the Syrian state was declaring, and the forensic medicine is a state institute, was there confidence in the forensic medicine among international organizations like when dealing with the fact-finding missions (which came to Syria), was there any challenge in the forensics reports or the scientific indications were sufficient to silence any challenge?
Answer: I attended international committees, let’s take the chemical subject for instance, they were asking me questions like when did you go from Al-Razi Hospital to the University Hospital? How long did the trip take when there was traffic jam and when there was no traffic jam? The details were to this extent in this matter. Despite that, and because we were confident in our information and in our science, thanks to God, and because we were not distorting the truth, we were able to convince them with the existing facts. Thanks to God we are very precise, and I was surprised when they would ask me questions like how long it takes between Al Razi Hospital and the University Hospital when there was traffic and when there wasn’t…
Question: Are we talking now about the use of chemical weapons in Khan Al Asal in 2013?
Answer: No, we are talking about the attacks that followed. They were asking questions like: why did you inspect all the injured? Why did you inspect the soldier victims? What do they have to do with this? We told them that at first we inspect all cases and then we segregate them, but at first all cases have to be inspected, they were focusing on such type of questions, like what did you smell when you arrive at the scene? Of course, they had their own specialist technicians, but thankfully, they were never able to (question our reports). Also, in Jisr Shoghour, for instance, they had a large number of forensic doctors and forensic technicians who tried to refute the official narrative which was the truthful narrative, like: the focus was on the time of death because there was a difference in that between two groups of martyrs, we managed to prove to them by scientific evidence that the case was not…
Question: Let’s stop at Jisr Shoghour, from the beginning, so we can remind of what happened. We are talking about two incidences in Jisr Shoghour, the famous incident and there was a previous one you talked about, let’s start from the one that happened first, how long was it before the massacre and what happened in Jisr Shoghour, especially that all talks that time that protests were peaceful?
Answer: The magnitude of what happened in Jisr Shoghour, its ugliness, makes people forget what happened before it. On 5 June 2011, a security force along with riot police went to support the besieged soldiers in the Jisr Shoghour main post. The group was 105 servicemen in total, all of them martyred. Let me stop here at an area called Urum al-Joz, this has to be highlighted. On 5 June 2011, the crisis was in its early days and as they were claiming it was ‘peaceful’, at that time I was heading the forensic medicine office in Idlib province. The forensic medicine examined and found qualitative injuries, severe ones, professional in sniping, of course, none of the martyrs didn’t get to their weapons, ever, they were killed while on the buses. At the time one of the judges asked me, he was martyred afterward by Nusra Front, he asked me, what is the need for autopsy in such a situation? We have dozens of martyrs in the lands we are examining, so I answer that autopsy for the sake of history.
I’m not a politician but a science man and I read the circumstances, the crisis didn’t come suddenly and enter Syria, there were shockwaves all over the Arab world, we were watching and seeing, and we were seeing unrelated things, in addition that one of the main tasks of forensics is to document because the forensic medicine aims for rights to be restored and justice to prevail, we have to document in order for every person to get their rights, but when documenting we were discovering how much we were under an untruthful media narrative, and I’m trying to be as much as unbiased with my words here, but there was media disinformation.
As per my segregation of the cases which I consider was in the fifth stage, as in the forth stage there were gunshots among the civilian victims but there were also gunshots among the armed men and there were also gunshots among the army soldiers because clashes happened and we couldn’t know what was going on, but the following stage which was the fifth and was around July (2011), it was the stage of explosions, the massacres stage started, we would receive a case of a bus would that was coming from a village and the bus was blown up, they were entering a house of a family and then kill and liquidate all its members, this was the most dangerous stage because it caused a state of panic, there were displacing operations for entire families from certain areas and an attempt to create small cantons so they can control it, this stage was in July 2011.
He asked me: What do you mean by autopsy for history? I told him you’ll know what I mean by autopsy for history when I finish the examination. With the autopsy of the bodies of 3 martyrs, we demonstrated that the gunshot used is advanced gunfire using a modern sniper, all the martyrs were sniped from long distances, which means, the situation is very serious, there are sophisticated quality weapons and there are trained snipers, this is not amateurs using guns for the first time, here comes the role of forensics.
Question: Let’s talk about the incident that you told me about, which is the martyred soldier…
Answer: O One of the martyrs I examined his body, I was surprised that the gunshot was from a distance of hundreds of meters. could be 200 or 300 meters or more, we could not determine its extent, but it is very far, you find that the gunshot penetrated the helmet that was worn by the martyr, then went through the frontal bone, then the brain material, then the temporal bone, and you know what the temporal bone means, then the occipital bone and then the helmet. It was a strange thing, I was surprised at that time as forensic medicine that there was a weapon of this quality, the subject was very dangerous, a bullet-like this is very sophisticated, and a qualitative weapon like this is used by a very professional sniper.
Question: In this case, there was no forensic role that could at least warn or influence subsequent events?
Answer: We warned at the time, and I warned in a number of meetings, I was in Idlib, then in Aleppo, then the Director-General of Forensic Medicine in the Syrian Arab Republic, I always seek what is called preventive forensic medicine, which we warn of about aspects that pose a threat to society and the security of society, how about this topic, it poses a danger to the whole society, we warned in a number of meetings that there are advanced qualitative weapons that are used in Syria, when you talk about June 5, 2011, at the beginning of the events, they had more advanced weapons than the army, unfortunately, this is the fact, we, as forensics, always seek to show the community that there are dangerous matters that must be taken care of, as we give this information we give it to beware, because there must be cautious and we know how to deal with what is coming, what is coming I told them will be very dangerous, and events have proven this.
Question: This thing happened before the famous Jisr Al-Shughour massacre?
Answer: We went to Jisr Al-Shughour, and of course there was a huge media hype. The opposition and the Western media, even including the Western ambassadors present, there was still official dealings with the government, and there were Arab, foreign and Gulf (GCC) media, many Gulf media, and the Gulf ambassadors at that time, they tried in any way and means to refute and challenge the true official narration, we as forensic medicine went (there), I was with them, we found 90 bodies and remained a number of bodies are missing, we examined them and stopped at a number of points, first, the abuse that occurred after death and the torture that occurred during life was something very strange in the Syrian society that foretells a disaster. One of the martyrs I examined was longitudinally divided into two halves, one of the martyrs was buried alive, we proved as forensic medicine that he was buried while he was alive, then the Western media and ambassadors came to find any loophole they believed to exist in the forensic reports or the official version.
Question: Like what?
Answer: There were two groups of martyrs, a group of martyrs was present in the main building, which is the security detachment, and a group of martyrs was in the post office. After those who were in the post office were killed, their bodies were thrown in the Orontes River, the second group of martyrs, knowing that field executions took place within a short period, within an hour or two, they tried to say that this group was killed at a different period from the group of the main detachment, we did a scientific analysis for them and explained to them the subject of decay, when (the body) inside the water how (decay) slows down due to lack of oxygen and the presence of moisture and when we get the body out of the water how the decaying accelerates tremendously and the phenomenon of the so-called black head appears, where the head of the body appears blackened, that is why we call this phenomenon in forensics is called the Black Head, I explained this to them carefully, I told them that if the body is not examined immediately after being extracted from the water it gives an enormous septic appearance, if the forensics doctor is not very accurate it is impossible to distinguish the time of sepsis. We explained it to them fully.
Question: Was this explanation given directly to…?
Answer: Directly to the media and the ambassadors present. Even a reporter for a station transmits my explanation of the topic and says that, according to what this doctor says, the official version seems authentic, so the media station changes the reporter.
Question: Was it a Gulf (GCC) station?
Answer: It was a Gulf station. Imagine, after I confronted them with science, thank God, they could not provide any response, the narrative became true because we speak science and we have no relationship with politics.
Question: The international committees that came specifically for the Jisr al-Shughur incident, did it interfere, or tried to know anything at that point?
Answer: This issue was the largest massacre that took place in the history of modern Syria, a huge number of martyrs, a way of killing gruesome, abuse of corpses, and the topic that deserved to be highlighted. When forensic medicine explained and clarified the matter, they did not follow up on this issue, why? Because they knew that the topic condemned the other team. Had the forensics failed at that time, they would have formed 100 committees, but when forensic medicine could explain exactly how the issue happened, they had no choice but to turn the page, they had no choice.
After the break:
I asked the executive authorities to provide us with a vegetable cooling truck. They sent me a 16-meter vegetable cooling truck to preserve the bodies in, we were running the truck on diesel because there was no electricity.
Manifestations that appear on a corpse after decaying may confuse by a non-forensic specialist, particularly with the subject of bruising.
When the Hamzah al-Khatib incident occurred, the forensic doctor explained, but there was no echo of what he said, they spoke of bruises while it was decaying.
The story of Hamza Al-Khatib is impressive: he read decaying but said it was bruises. The testes are swollen due to decaying, and the penis was no longer visible, so they said that the penis was cut.
Forensic medicine and you will see the photos soon, showing that the cause of death is a gunshot, the entry nozzles are clear and the exit nozzles are clear.
Indeed, he was shot because they were defending the housing compound of the (officers). The photos show you three gunshot entries and the penis is intact, nothing wrong with it.
We read the situation from the corpses that come to us.
The future of our lives from corpses?
Exactly, when you see at the beginning of events this is kind of torture on the corpses, you see the killing methods that were used, you realize that what’s coming is very dangerous.
– Start with ‘in the name of God’..
– Terrorist activist: In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Another martyr of freedom from the city of Giza in the governorate of Daraa, whose name is Hamza Ali Al-Khatib, age 13. He went out on the Friday of Anger to lift the siege on the people of Daraa. He was arrested at Sidon Housings (compound) and tortured in the most heinous way, looking at the traces of torture.
When the incident of Hamzah Al-Khatib happened, people were refusing to listen, unfortunately, I say that with the utmost frankness. People were refusing to listen to any science or whatever. The people were mobilized (by media), forensic medicine at the time spoke, but there was no echo of what it said, there was doubting the narration presented by forensic medicine which is the true narrative, the people now must listen and must know. They said about the presence of bruises while they were manifestations of sepsis, if time permits, we will display the pictures and explain a scientific explanation on this topic.
Terrorist Activist: This is a bullet in the right arm, which penetrated his arm from this side and exited from here and entered his chest, a shot in his abdomen, and another shot on the left side symmetrically with the right side exited from the outside side and entered from the inner side to his chest again.
Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad, Head of the Forensic Medicine Center in Homs: The story of Hamza Al-Khatib is impressive: he read decaying but said it was bruises. The testes are swollen due to decaying, and the penis shrank and was no longer visible, so they said that the penis was cut, because there are pre-existing mentalities and their doctor did not have good prospects. You also remember the story of The Hirak, but the doctor there was a professional, in the story of The Hirak was electrocuted and he altered it.
Fortunately, we have the pictures from the start in the story of Hamzah Al-Khatib, and everything is clear. His body had nothing, no bruise, no beating, 3 gunshots, no one denied that he was shot because they were defending the housing compound. The photos show 3 gunshots and the penis is intact. It means that the facts were then altered.
Terrorist activist: and a shot at the top in his chest, and look at the bruises in his face with the broken neck, and look at the bruises on his right leg.
At the beginning of the war, people did not want to hear, or a group of people refused to listen at all, did not want to listen to the voice of truth, the voice of justice, wanted to walk behind what you expected or wanted. The western media had a very big role, and the Arab and Gulf media in particular, had a very big role in mobilizing and inciting people.
What did forensics do? initially, it was said that Hamzah Al-Khatib’s body had been mutilated, tortured, even severed its male penis. Forensic medicine, as you will see with pictures a little later it turns out that the cause of death was gunshots, the entry holes are clear and opposite the exit holes. It shows there was no torture on his body, even the subject of the cutting of the penis, people suspected what they thought was bruising on his body, this was decaying. Decaying, the degradation that took place gives a bruising-like appearance and any specialist in the field of forensic medicine and criminal science can distinguish that, the subject isn’t a debate, the case is scientifically clear. As for age, they said gave an age and forensic medicine estimated another age. The role of forensic medicine was very crucial in this case.
Terrorist activist: They did not stop with this amount of torture, but cut off his penis, then shot him, look at him without penis, they cut off his penis. Date May 25, 2011, on Wednesday.
Question: In the matter of determining age in the case of Hamza Al-Khatib, and in general, how is it done?
Answer: There are several criteria that forensic medicine uses through the study of orthopedics, radiographs in particular for the left hand wrist, the examination of teeth, and we have included this topic as a very important study: forensic dentistry. Under 21 years old, I can say that (forensic medicine) gives very credible and reliable results, after the age of 21, the margin of suspicion becomes between 6 months to a year.
Question: It was said that Hamza Al-Khatib was 13 years old?
Answer: Forensics has proved he was three years older than this.
Question: In the case of a corpse, the images that spread about inflation that the corpse is swollen …?
Answer: This is a natural process and natural development of the septic state that occurs. What happened is that after the corpse was kept in Tishreen Military Hospital for a period of about 20 days, it was transferred to the National Daraa Hospital, of course, the cooling was not appropriate, for that decay increased and accelerated.
Manifestations that appear on the body at the time of sepsis may be suspected by a non-specialist, particularly with the subject of bruising. Forensic medicine spoke and explained it fully. You will see the pictures when the body arrived. There was no mutilation or torture of the deceased, exactly. Here, the forensic role was decisive and essential, but as I told you at that time the problem was that people refused to listen, in short.
Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad, Head of the Forensic Medicine Center in Homs: I do not hide from you that a large number of forensic doctors were threatened, another section sat at home, a number of them were afraid, and a number that stopped appearing on the media, and even I was one of these, this is first, secondly I was one those who spoke on some shows about media misinformation, but we were stifled by the media and no one heard us. It was in vain. We spoke and tried to speak more, but we became in our media outlets talking to each other. We are the people convinced that there is a conspiracy against the country. That is why our role was weak.
Question: From the Arab committees that came, and they came to Homs in particular, did they not meet you? Didn’t try to contact you?
Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad, Head of the Forensic Medicine Center in Homs: They met us and I think that Al-Dabi, the head of the delegation, gave positive indications because he came to us and we presented him with the facts, and the period during which Al-Dabi visited us was the car bomb that exploded at the Military Medical Services Est. on the street of Al-Jajah Restaurant and Khaled Bin Al-Waleed School and we see the files, there was a car that exploded, they brought us the car to the Forensic Medicine, and it is well documented, they brought the car thinking it was for a suicide bomber, but when we discovered the corpse at the morgue we discovered that there were circular bruises on the hand that was found and on the feet, and we saw the electronic board in his viscera, and there were forceps placed on the penis for torture by blocking urine to produce psychological pressure, this is known as a method of torture that is cut urine by attaching the urethra or placing forceps.
We found that this person previously had a previous traffic accident and as a result of the fixative device placed in the vertebrae and his story, we were able to identify that this person was kidnapped 3 days ago and he is a known person. This person was kidnapped and after a while he was put in the car. The car was booby-trapped and directed towards the headquarters of the Military and Police Medical Services in that area. It seems that when this person came out knowing that he was booby-trapped, thought about where to go and decided to go to the security forces, he will not go to his family to save him, they were meanwhile planning to detonate the car remotely, and during that time the existing witness also spoke and then we analyzed what happened: When the car arrived at the military service building, the guard came to see the car because nobody was going in that street, at the moment the soldier came to him, the person returned the car to the back and after he returned about 20 meters, the car exploded, they felt that he was retreating and this person knew that he will be detonated and he didn’t want to harm the soldier so he drove backward, the material damage was little, he was the only person killed.
At that time we wanted to explain openly to the media what happened, and then it was decided after the recording of the episode that we might teach people this way so we do not want it to be repeated that a person is kidnapped and booby-trapped and tied to the car and sent. So that it does not get repeated after the episode was recorded the decision was made not to be shown to the media and I showed it to al-Dabbi in those days, he asked me for documents, I told him that I need official permission to give it to you…
Question: Dabbi’s report was unexpectedly positive…
Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad, head of the Forensic Medicine Center in Homs: His report was positive because I took him down to the forensic morgue and showed him the bodies during that period, and I have the pictures, how a person was killed and only the meat was removed from his face and the top of his chest with the knife after death. We showed him pictures that I tell you about how he was tied, how he was covering his eyes, how he was slaughtered. Then they used to master slaughtering, we used to see slaughtering from the front, and then we see slaughtering taking place from the back…
Question: What is the difference?
Answer: The difference between them is that those who are slaughtered from the front die quickly, while those who are slaughtered from the back remain half an hour until they die because they are bleeding slowly … We started thinking why? We got the idea because some people have a habit that they want the blood of the carcass to be kept inside. Some people slaughter the carcass, the sheep or the like, they slaughter them from the back and in this way the bleeding is slow and the blood remains inside the carcass – the animal, and this is used as a method of cheating sometimes to increase the weight. The aim was torture. We used to see the victims slaughtered and then we saw that the hair of his forehead was shaved or his eyebrows had been shaved, why? Because the person who slaughters him tortures him, shaves his hair and shaves his eyebrows, and then he slays him. All these aspects, including beheadings…
Question: In what way are heads cut with a sword or slaughtered?
Answer: No, with the knife, it is clear that it was with the knife and not with the sword, technically you need a very professional person to be able to cut off the head with one stroke, but when using the knife he needs to insert it between the vertebrae.
The method of slaughtering was with knives, not with a single stroke. We know this from the multiple wound lines on the neck.
Dr. Zahir Hajo, Director of the General Authority of Forensic Medicine in Syria: The era that spanned from March 2011 until March 2012 when the army entered Idlib, one of the most dangerous episodes that passed in the history of Idlib as a province and a city. There was a lot of kidnapping after the Jisr al-Shughur for all the civilians who were supporting the state. Every day we found the body of a person who had been field-executed after being tortured.
I remember from the unique cases that I saw a civilian accused of supporting the state, all the traces of torture studied in the forensic books that forensics faces and which we study in books and those that do not exist in the books are present on it exist, huge barbaric torture, I am surprised by his story, which can explain to you what this country went through, his wife to ensure that they will execute him, “guarantee that they will execute him” she paid a million Lira and sold everything she owned so they will stop torturing him. He suggested to his wife that they would release him when the ransom was paid, he agreed with them where he asked them, in order to get rid of torture, that they should execute him, kill him, they said that they would not execute him for free, until his wife paid the money they executed him and rid him of torture.
We used to examine all of these things as forensic medicine.
Question: His wife paid money to kill him to rid him of torture?
Answer: It could have been expected that they would release him, knowing that he agreed with him that he would die and end. This period was one of the most dangerous periods in Idlib’s history, and there was a tremendous presence of gunmen in the outskirts carrying out kidnappings and assassinations, at which time the Attorney General in Idlib was assassinated, Mr. Nidal Ghazal Allah, have mercy on him.
Terrorist Activists: These are the Shabbiha forces coming to Jisr al-Shughour from Idlib, June 5, 2011. Shabiha coming from Idlib. focus…
Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad: Of course, it reached its peak in the tenth month of 2011. I think we have reached a high point in the matter of kidnapping and killing in this way.
Question: What was the effect of that if we wanted to talk about people, for example, when they inspect the bodies and you wanted to hand them over to their families?
Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad: I understood your question. The problem reflected on us as a forensic medicine when the relatives come to collect the bodies, whether armed or martyrs, as a result of these kidnappings, the person who had lost a family member could not reach the National Hospital to identify the body and take it, and thus we faced accumulation of corpses, and we have other problems. People did not receive the bodies, so I asked to make cold rooms and then the cold rooms were not enough, then we asked to bring vegetable transport vehicles, and here a rumor emerged that we are collecting the bodies, that the state is collecting the bodies to take them from a place For the last, it wasn’t, we didn’t have electricity at the National Hospital, so I asked the executive authorities that I needed a vegetables cold truck so they sent me a 16-meter-long vegetable refrigerator to put the bodies in. We run it on diesel because there is no electricity so that the bodies do not rot and people come to identify them, after a while we found that one refrigerator is not enough, the rumor emerged here that we are collecting the bodies and transporting them from one place to another, but the truth is as I told you.
Question: Did you encounter problems with the parents with their different passions who could have heard stories and could even have for them even the subject of the autopsy have many social and religious caveats sometimes, did you face this type of problem whether related to the cause of death and how to explain it to the family or about the autopsy?
Answer: We did not resort to autopsy much because the apparent disclosure was sufficient and we were not looking for a known criminal and it was clear that it was a murder, we were very sympathetic for the relatives that we developed the procedures at the Forensic Medicine, it wasn’t logical to let the relatives go in to see all the bodies to identify theirs, so we photographed the bodies and displayed on the computer. When he identifies his body, we bring it up to see it in real and recognizes it formally, because the number of bodies could have shocked the people, so we automated the process in order to deliver the bodies.
Unfortunately, the large numbers of dead bodies remained unknown because people were unable to reach us, and the areas were separated from each other in Homs. We tried, in some ways, to send CDs to identify the missing, within our capabilities. However, there remained unknown bodies that we, unfortunately, cannot identify.
Question: Was it buried later?
Answer: All the bodies in Homs were buried in a systematic way, according to an initiative that we, the forensic medicine, in cooperation with the Burial Office, the Religious Endowments Ministry, the security authorities, the governorate, and the civil defense. Everything was documented, we took pictures of the bodies, and the unknown bodies which weren’t recognizable from the pictures we took DNA samples from it, code was placed on the body and there was a unified code from the beginning of the crisis to the end of it. You know that we, as a health care sector, do not care about shrouds, nylon, and the like, they brought us the coffin, we wrapped the body, Civil Defense transports it, prayers were held for it under the supervision of Endowments and buried in cemeteries, 6 graveyards were approved in Homs because the numbers were large, bodies were buried orderly, each in a grave alone, and for this moment when someone reviews us to identify a dead body, we can take them to the grave of the body.
We made sure that there were no mass graves, even when Homs was liberated, we entered the old Homs district and searched the graveyards, whether the graves were collective, we took samples and were documented and buried in a regular way, and even the irregular graves that were in the gardens of homes, shelters or rooftops were re-dug out and sent to regular graves so that residents can return to live in their homes.
Question: Have you reached a stage, I do not want to call it a disability, but the numbers of dead bodies in it were beyond your capacity or your ability to absorb all this number, not only in terms of location but also the ability to analyze all the data?
Answer: What happened with us and as you know that laws are not established for crises, laws are put in place for a stable social life, the law was that for an (unidentified) body to be buried that it should be kept for a month and we must get the approval of the Public Prosecutor, we continued with this, but the large number of corpses continued to come and approached a thousand corpses with us, here as forensic doctors as a result of our reading of the reality and the summer began, so we submitted a request to the Attorney General l and explained to him the situation that continuing with this process would threaten an environmental disaster, he asked us to act according to the principles that allow the identification of corpses later in order to avoid environmental disasters, we were collecting the bodies, putting them in the (vegetable cold) trucks, but 4 freezers were sufficient for some time, then what?
We must bury them. Before the burial process, we performed photo documentation of all the dead bodies, as I told you, with number codes, wrap them in shrouds them and send them to the graves, because in that period in October we reached a peak in the numbers of unidentified bodies, we absorbed this number by collecting the bodies in refrigerators and vegetable transport vehicles that were used for this purpose, during which time we were told that we were collecting bodies but we were absorbing the shock. After this period, we started the natural process, to preserve the (body’s decency) you need to bury it according to the principles that preserve human dignity and at least preserve the religious duties that a person must perform towards the deceased person, and this thing was done at the governorate level in cooperation with all the competent authorities.
A person must read well in order to see what will happen to him in the future. We read from the corpses that reach us, we read the situation from the corpses that reach us.
Question: The future of our lives are from corpses?
Answer: Exactly, when we see what happened with this body, we simulate what happened with it, we find that the situation is very dangerous. When you see this type of torture on the body at the beginning of events, you see the killing methods that happen, you know the next is very dangerous.
End of the English translation transcript,
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