“The cows were killed, the harvest was burnt,” says a young Turkish man who gave only his first name of Ali, who has traveled with a video camera to the contested areas in recent days and witnessed the onslaught. His footage has been running on Turkish news channels.
In one house with “blood all over the walls,” says Ali, “we couldn’t breathe” because of the stench of bodies of three men, eight women, and three boys.
Syrian military helicopters spotted Ali’s group, and one member was killed – struck in the head by rounds from the helicopter – as they ran for seven hours trying to hide. He witnessed first the tanks firing upon the houses, “then the Army troops were coming and were burning everything.”
It was this kind of anticivilian action that soldier Fidou, in his early 20s, refused to perpetrate. Of slight build and with a thin beard, Fidou wears tennis shoes dirty from a long journey.
In his pocket he carries a carefully folded document, proof that he completed his mandatory military service in 2008 in Jisr al-Shughur.
As a reservist he was called up in April – not long after the Syria’s uprising began against the dictatorial rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
Fidou reported for duty and says he was given 15 days training in riot control techniques. He was then deployed to Homs, where his unit was ordered to fire directly on civilians to put down unrest.