December 2011 Jabal al-Zawiya massacres

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December 2011 Jabal al-Zawiya massacres
Part of the Idlib Governorate clashes (September 2011–March 2012)
Date19–20 December 2011[1]
Location35°55′31″N 36°34′10″E / 35.9252006°N 36.5693665°E / 35.9252006; 36.5693665
Result Syrian Army victory[1]
Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Units involved

15th Division

  • 35th Army Regiment
~300 ~500
Casualties and losses
235+ killed 60-100 killed
120 civilians killed
December 2011 Jabal al-Zawiya massacres is located in Syria
December 2011 Jabal al-Zawiya massacres
Location within Syria

The Jabal al-Zawiya massacres took place on 19–20 December 2011, in the Idlib province of Syria during the 2011-2012 Idlib Governorate clashes between the Syrian Army and opposition forces, within the larger scope of the 2011-2012 Syrian uprising. Human rights and opposition activists said that some 200 people were killed by Syrian security forces in the hills and villages of the north-western province of Idlib on 19 and 20 December 2011.[1][2] The Syrian state news agency claimed that 1 terrorist was killed and several more wounded.[1]

The event occurred following a large scale defection of hundreds of Syrian soldiers on 19 December, while some 70 of them were gunned down by loyalists. On 20 December, government forces backed by tanks reportedly launched an operation to hunt down the defectors who managed to escape.[1]


On 19 December, the FSA suffered its largest loss of life when new defectors tried to abandon their positions and bases between the villages of Kansafra and Kafr Oweid in Idlib province. Opposition activist groups, specifically the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, reported that 72 defectors were killed as they were gunned down during their attempted escape. The Syrian Army lost three soldiers during the clashes.[3] The next day, SOHR stated that in all 100 defectors were killed or wounded.[4] Also, the same day, the SOHR updated its number of civilians killed by government security forces in the province for the previous day from 37 to 111. It had been called a "massacre".[5]

Alaa El Din Al Youssef, a Syrian opposition member in Idlib, described the government's attack on the area of Idlib and Jabal al-Zawiya as a massacre.

"Civilians were surrounded by security forces who killed 100 of us. The corpses of those killed were left in the streets and the mosques and we are not allowed to bury any of them."

"Some of those killed cannot be recognised. Some were burnt and some beheaded with their hands tied. We are really scared because the area might be stormed once again."[6]

This claim cannot be independently confirmed.

The clashes continued into the next day, and another report, by Lebanese human rights activist Wissam Tarif, put the death toll even higher with 163 defectors, 97 government troops and nine civilians killed on the second day alone as the military tracked down the soldiers and civilians that managed to initially escape.[7] On 21 December, it was reported that the FSA had taken control over large swathes of Idlib province including some towns and villages.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Syria unrest: Jabal al-Zawiya 'massacres'". BBC News. 19 January 2012.
  2. ^ "Timeline: Syria war".
  3. ^ Jim Muir (20 December 2011). "Syria unrest: Dozens of army deserters 'gunned down'". Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Attacks Across Syria Leave Dozens Dead". 20 December 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  5. ^ "SNC calls for action to halt Idlib 'massacre'". 21 December 2011. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Syria group urges UN action over 'massacre'". Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Syria unrest: Jabal al-Zawiya 'massacres'". 19 January 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Syria group urges UN action over 'massacre' – Middle East". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 11 July 2012.