Human Rights Watch

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Into the Abyss

The al-Hota Mass Grave in Northern Syria

Monday 04 May 2020


The video footage is shocking. A group of seven masked men are shown tossing the body of a dead man into a deep gorge. The body tumbles down a cliff and appears to collide with another body already there, plunging both off a ledge to the joyful shouts of the men. “Jarjaq,” utters one of the men as the body hits the corpse below. The phrase is a local expression from playing marbles which means, in essence, “we win, let’s go again.” And they do: thirty seconds later, the men toss a second body into the abyss and, like the first, it strikes a body stuck on a ledge and both tumble into the bottom of the gorge.

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