Translated by Aisha Barazi
In Damascus Suburbs down through the pathway to the green valley where there are huge mountains extending on the right-hand side, forests with bushy trees among which deer and bears jump happily and a sparkling river running down its wide stream; there you may find the imaginary “Town of Mills” that was shelled with rockets by the Syrian regime forces and witness a horrifying massacre.
The geographic description of the venue was a personal discretion after a long search in my own imagination. However, the rest of the story was mentioned in the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces’ statement regarding the massacre at the beautiful “Town of Mills”.
For several days before, the Battle of Mills was the most prominent news in the area of Ghouta due to several reasons. First and foremost, it had brought back hope for hundreds of thousands of people that the smell of bread would return after many months of deprivation.
Bread was the first victim of the suffocating siege by the regime’s forces on both Ghoutas (Eastern and Western) and the rest of the rebels’ inhabited areas in the city of Damascus and its surroundings. Secondly, the battles were fierce and there was lots of bloodshed.
The talk of the town was the military campaign that aimed to liberate the mills located on the road to Damascus Airport. The campaign during which hundreds of rebels and civilians were martyred or injured until this moment.
In a report concerning the massacre that was issued by the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, activist Majd AlDeik mentioned in his testimony, that there is no way for us to estimate the number of victims in this massacre because body parts are scattered everywhere, the battle continues till present time and the area is monitored by the regime’s snipers and tanks.
Majd said: “There was no way we could have controlled the situation and prohibited the civilians from entering the area due to their severe need for flour of which they had been deprived for months. Suddenly, the regime’s forces, located only a few hundreds of meters away, opened their Shilka machine guns targeting the main entrance. I was there by the train tracks and eye-witnessed how all 17 cars burned along with the civilians inside of them. There were more than 50 people in the cars and up until now we could not extract the martyrs and wounded or identify them because the area is still monitored by the regime’s forces. I have also seen a young man from the town of Saqba who was hit with a missile that cut his head off in front of us.”
Not to mention the martyrs who fell in the following days, when the regime’s forces targeted the area with ground-to-ground rockets, resulting in dozens of martyrs and wounded.
Majd continued to narrate how families started to block the road on the few cars that could survive the massacre and were loaded with flour so they could get some of it. All that happened seems imaginary and painful to an unprecedented or tolerated level. None of this had reached the people at the Syrian National Coalition, on the contrary, they thought that Mills was the name of a town. They did not know about the bread dipped in blood, nor the battle’s causes, details and background.