Houla massacre: 11-year-old Ali el-Sayed played dead to survive


UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan speaks to the press upon his arrival in Damascus for talks with top officials on May 28, 2012. Annan said he was 'shocked' at the weekend's 'tragic events' in the central Syrian town of Houla where the Syrian government used artillery in which at least 108 people were killed.


Louai Beshara

Ali el-Sayed, 11, fell to the floor of his home and soaked his clothes in his brother's blood to fool gunmen during the Houla massacre who were slaughtering his family into thinking he was already dead.

"I put my brother's blood all over me and acted like I was dead," Ali told the Associated Press over Skype on Wednesday, five days after the killing spree.

The Syrian boy described the gunmen — with long beards and shaved heads — killing his parents and all four of his siblings, one by one. The youngest of the family to die was Nader, Ali's six-year-old brother, who was shot once in the head and once in the back.

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Ali was one of the very few survivors of a massacre in Houla, a group of poor farming villages and olive groves in Homs province, reported The Guardian. More than 100 people were killed in the weekend massacre, with many women and children shot or stabbed in their homes.

Ali also spoke to The Guardian, describing what happened before the shooting started in his home.

"They came in armored vehicles and there were some tanks," Ali said. "They shot five bullets through the door of our house. They said they wanted Aref and Shawki, my father and my brother. They then asked about my uncle, Abu Haidar. They also knew his name."

He then described how one of the men shot his mother with a machine gun from the neck down after she yelled at them. The shooters then moved on to his sister Rasha with the same gun, and then to Nader.

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"They shot at me, but the bullet passed me and I wasn't hit. I was shaking so much I thought they would notice me," he told The Guardian. "I put blood on my face to make them think I'm dead."

After looting the house, the men were on their way out when they ran into the three men they were looking for — Ali's father, brother and uncle — and shot them dead.

According to the AP, many victims are still missing days after the attack.

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