Testimony from Rastan: War, martyrs, siege and anti-human crimes

We’ve received this testimony on phone call from Rastan to the LCC media center

Communications returned for a few minutes to the town so he hurried to tell the news, facts and crimes that he witnessed the regime carry out in his little town over the last week. Crimes which he and his family witnessed, and told about to the Local Coordinating Committees by the words he managed to find.

The Syrian army shelling of the town did not spare any street or school. They even helped the shabiha to exhume bodies of martyrs from their graves and stole many of them. One of the bodies that they exhumed and kidnapped is that of martyr Ahmad Khalaf. They also arrested his father.

More than 60 people were killed, among whom are 3 women. I do not know the exact number of children who were killed, but I can confidently say that the rumour about killing 20 children is not true.

More than 3000 people were detained; most of them were imprisoned in the cement factory which was turned into one of the largest prisons, in addition to schools. I could not estimate the number of prisoners who were tortured but there are many of them. I know that they beat the detainees in an unprecedented brutal way using mainly the soles of their rifles. They aimed at the wounds of wounded detainees in their beating and torturing which eventually led to the death of many of them.

They detained Yahya Qasim Al-Ashtar after he was wounded by 2 shrapnels in his back from the nail bombs used to bombard the town. They also detained Munawwar Hussain Al-Ashtar (15 year-old) despite the injury in his head, and Hareb Hussain Al-Ashtar (25 year-old) and their uncle Musleh Qasim Al-Ashtar. Most of the injuries were in the head and abdomen. There was more than 25 wounded in Al-Ashtar family only, let alone the other families.

Rastan is now living under extremely difficult human circumstances, and there is much need for all kinds of aid, as the town has been without bread or babies’ milk for more than 5 days; water and communications is also still cut off.

In addition to the siege of the town, shabiha and security forces broke into the pharmacies and the military institution, and raided all the commercial offices in Karaj street in the town center.

They stormed the field hospital and stole all the devices from one of the houses that we tuned into a small hospital in which we put some of the wounded for treatment, before they burnt it down with the wounded still alive inside it. This happened in front of my eyes.

The number of defected soldiers who defended the town was more than 250 soldier, reinforced by a number of soldiers who came from other areas to join in. They managed to hold at bay the brutal attack of the army on the town. Huge military reinforcements arrived later, one of these reinforcements was a military battalion the members of which were wearing wearing masks to hide their faces! They were very ruthless and professionals. They were different from the army. They killed people violently and brutally, in a different way to the army and indiscriminately. They used women and children as human shields to protect themselves from the fire of the defected soldiers. This way they could advance into the town and the Free Army had to withdraw back.

Many army members including soldiers and officers were executed after they refused to shoot at civilians or tried to defect. The army used hundreds of tanks and rocket launchers in its war to invade the town. I saw the tanks and rocket lanchers with my own eyes, they were positioned at the eastern part of Rastan. Even military fighters were used in this battle.

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