Five suicide attacks and two car bombs killed at least 148 people in the Syrian cities of Jableh and Tartus earlier today. The attacks were all carried out by ISIS. Buzzfeed has aggregated photographs of the aftermath along with some specific details about each attack. I mention this first because that’s a hell of a single day death toll, and I think it’s important to mention those kinds of things even when they happen Over There. But I also bring it up because a few people on Twitter this morning noticed an interesting feature of all the early reporting on these attacks:
It’s certainly newsworthy in a “man bites dog” sense that these attacks happened in Latakia, which is generally free from ISIS-related violence (unlike, say, Deir Ezzor, which is being besieged and assaulted by ISIS regularly). But to prominently note that “people” were killed in “Assad strongholds” turns the civilians (aka regular folks) who were killed in these terrorist attacks into agents or proxies of the Assad government, which is dehumanizing and unfair, and has a creepy “they had it coming” feel to it. There’s no evidence that any of today’s victims were anything other than civilians; there’s not even any evidence that they were particularly fond of Bashar al-Assad apart from the fact that they were killed in a government-controlled region with a large Alawite population. Let’s try to remember that these are human beings who were killed, instead of reducing them to a tribal label based on where they happened to live.