The recording is 41 seconds long. You have to stay with the stage. It shows little Hasan al Judur with a bucket in one hand and a kitchen shovel in the other. He is in a ship surrounded by chicks. He strokes the bottom of the bucket at a good pace with the handle of the shovel while shuffling his feet barefoot through the sawdust that covers the floor. Eight-year-old Hasan, shy as a schoolboy in front of the teacher, wants to attract the young, to follow him as he passes through the room. Three months after this video, many others were recorded in that place. The same columns, walls, the floor where the kid drummed. The stage had been blown up; everything was destroyed, razed, covered with the remains of the concrete detached from the structure of the ship by the impact of a bombardment. At 10:07 am on November 11, little Hasan died on a poultry farm in Maarrat Misrin, a town in the Idlib province, in western Syria. His two cousins Asaad and Marwah also died. And their parents, Yahya and Sedrah. Five members of the same family were killed by the blow of a war that has not ended, the one that is being fought in Syria, and from which they were fleeing.
Ali al Judur, 43, is Hasan’s father.
– Ali, how is he?
– It’s an indescribable feeling. I don’t know where to go to live in peace.
Ali, who talks through the WhatsApp messaging service, survived the attack. That Thursday morning they had come to work at the small poultry farm in Maarrat for one more day. According to the record of the Syrian Network of Human Rights, a UK-based Syrian conflict monitoring organization, a few minutes after 10 a.m., several planes fired missiles at the Al Judur estate. Ali, who has six siblings, four of them still alive, was there, not far from one of them, 21-year-old Yahya. After the bombs burst, Ali consciously stayed with him as he perished, hit squarely by the attack. “I accompanied him until he died,” he says. Yahya lost his life in the same place where little Hasan, his nephew, surrounded himself three months ago with the chicks.
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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), a London-based organization that has been monitoring the conflict since 2011, estimates more than 494,000 deaths since the outbreak of the revolution more than a decade ago. The Syrian regime controls about 60% of the country’s territory. Idlib is one of the last focuses of the war. This province in which the Al Judur farm is located is the main objective of the campaign by Russian pilots in their battle against the group that governs much of the region, Hayat Tahrir al Sham, heirs of the Al Qaeda affiliate in Mesopotamia.
According to information provided in a video call by Mousa al Zaidan, White helmet —The volunteers of the organization Syria Civil Defense that intervene in emergencies— at least 60 minors have died since last June in bombings on the Idlib province. “90% of these attacks,” says Al Zaidan, “have reached the civilian population.”
The entire Al Judur family had settled on the farm, north of the city of Idlib, a year ago. It is a purely agricultural land. Photographs before and after the bombing requested from the US company specializing in satellite images Maxar show that there is almost nothing around the complex. Field, trees and cultivation. The satellite snapshot captured after the attack allows us to observe the destruction on the two breeding sheds arranged in parallel and the house that heads the farm.
From an area similar to this one where the Al Judur live, in the village of Barqoum, in the agricultural foothills of Aleppo, some 30 kilometers away, the family arrived last year displaced by violence. The house they lived in had been hit by the conflict and they fled. An exodus of farm workers seeking to survive; They couldn’t find a new home and they stumbled upon the poultry farm.
Yahya and Sedrah, 20, had two children, Marwah, just one year old, and Asaad, two. The photos Ali shares of the children – “I want everyone to know what happened,” he insists on different wasaps– They are remnants of any family. In some, Asaad laughs alongside his undaunted sister. In others he cries looking at the camera with Marwah as a witness or, who knows, guilty of his anger. Ali’s son Hasan appears with a ball in his hands or riding a bike decorated with stickers from the children’s series Ben 10. As his father has said, Hasan liked school, but it was far away.
The registration of the photos and videos captured by the first white helmets who arrived in the area allows to see from near the farm, across the field, the roar caused by the bomb and the column of smoke. One of those recordings is fixed on a woman who screams and cries with her hands stretched out to the sky. She is the grandmother of the children. Both she and her husband waited by the rubble to see how the bodies were recovered. Yahya’s rescue, in the chicken coop, was perhaps the least complicated. The others had to penetrate the stone to tear them out of the devastation. The remains are creepy.
Already with the children in an ambulance, lifeless, the grandfather was able to approach the minors. He took them in his arms, inert, and repeated their names with tremendous pain. “Marwah, Asaad, answer me,” he tells them, according to one of the recordings. The injured were taken to a hospital in Idlib city, as reported by the Syrian-American medical society SAMS. One of the white helmets, the one who recovered Asaad’s body, photographed in the ambulance, stated: “Chen I held it in my hands it was like a little angel. I was trying not to see his eyes, I was afraid of his gaze wondering why this had happened. “
The different sources consulted agree that the attack was perpetrated by Russian aviation. As Airwars, an organization that monitors violence in Syria, Libya and Iraq, also based in the United Kingdom, explains, Russia does not report with exceptions of its bombings. These difficulties led this project to cease in October 2019 to monitor the Kremlin’s campaign in Syria, launched in support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime six years ago, on a daily basis.
The white helmets However, they have an early warning system developed by the North American company Hala Systems that warns about the flight of combat aircraft and allows a quick reaction in the event of an attack. They also have observers on the ground who report on the takeoff of the aircraft, which, together with the recognition of their typology – for many it is relatively easy to distinguish between a Mig fighter and a Shukoi after a decade of war – helps to establish the nationality of the aircraft.
– Ali, what were you doing before the bombing?
– We were working. Let the world know that we are not terrorists.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.