A large number of villagers were slaughtered and many women and children were kidnapped during the assault on May 12. Many of those who survived the assault are now living in Homs in houses reconstructed from ruins. “We heard gunshots and woke up early in the morning.
The gunmen went to the center of our village while we were asleep. I hid with my son for one and a half hours and then gunmen started to knock at the door. We ran away through the back door.
We didn’t take any main roads for over two hours and we fell down many times before someone saved us and brought us to a safe place. Then we came to Homs,” said Maysaa, a female survivor.
“It’s an unprecedented massacre in our village. They didn’t execute anyone by shooting, but slashed people with axes. A 10-year-old boy was hacked to death through the waist. It’s too terrible,” said Saleh Ibrahim, an elderly male survivor.
Another survivor, Um Amjad, showed pictures of a beheading.
“These pictures were sent to us through social media by the attackers. They took away cell phones and sent us messages using the names of the dead,” said Amjad.
According the these survivors, about one third of the villagers in Al-Zara lost their lives, while many others were kidnapped by the militants for money. The survivors say they are now exiled and have nothing left at all.
“I was so afraid when the assaults started that I forgot my son. Then I returned home to fetch him so that we could escape together. It’s because he’s my son. I took nothing besides him. My son is the most important,” said Maysaa.
Militants assaulted Al-Zara for its strategic location. Now that they have occupied the village, they can launch attacks on the power plant to its west and Homs to its south.
“Those who attacked our village are beasts. They have no conscience, belief or morality. They are benighted,” said Ibrahim.
The survivors could not restrain their grief and see only a bleak future. “I have nothing besides my husband and my son. We are having hard times at the moment. I live at my cousin’s house and rely on others’ relief. We once lived with dignity,” Maysaa cried