The darker side of Syria’s Palmyra

On June 26 1980, a grenade landed near then President Hafez al-Assad’s feet. He reacted swiftly and kicked it away. Another grenade killed his bodyguard as he threw himself to save the president.

At that time, Hafez al-Assad was facing a full-scale revolt led by Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. The assassination attempt was allegedly carried out by a faction of the Brotherhood.

The following morning, on June 27, Hafez’s brother, Rifaat al-Assad, commander of the Paramilitary Defence Brigades, sent some 60 soldiers to Tadmur Prison which housed at that time hundreds of members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The soldiers were divided into squads, tasked to shoot every inmate in sight.

Hundreds of prisoners were massacred, with no records of those who were killed or imprisoned.