Retreating regime forces leave mass graves in Idlib province

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Residents of rebel-held Ariha in Idlib province discovered two mass killing sites reportedly left behind by retreating regime forces last week, Raed Salih, head of the opposition’s Civil Defense Forces, told Syria Direct on Tuesday. “Ariha’s residents reported a foul smell, leading us to 11 bodies, blindfolded, hands tied behind the back and shot in the head, dumped in a water tank,” explained Salih. “We found another seven corpses at the city’s old military security branch and more keep turning up,” added Salih. Of the eleven bodies first discovered in the water tank, two were women and many were dismembered, reported the pro-opposition news site Syrian Independent Media on Facebook on Monday. “The dismemberment was probably caused by decomposition, as the bodies are beginning to disintegrate,” said Salih of the apparent mutilation of the discovered bodies. This is not the first time withdrawing regime forces have reportedly left behind mass death in Idlib province. Following the withdrawal of regime forces from the Jisr a-Shughour military security branch on April 25, rebel forces discovered 23 bodies, all of whom had been shot to death the same day, reported pro-opposition All4Syria. The rebels captured Ariha, 12km southwest of Idlib, on May 29.