Tijdens het schrijven van de ombudsbijdrage "Waarheid in oorlogstijd" (DS 27 juni) vroeg ik ook Rainer Hermann, correspondent in het Midden Oosten voor de Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, om een reactie op de kritiek op zijn stukken over Houla. Die reactie kwam er - maar helaas net te laat om nog in het stuk te worden opgenomen. Daarom plaats ik ze hier, als aanvulling:

"Dear Mr Naegels,
Sometimes it is difficult to swim against the tide, also on the case of Houla. After having seen two eyewitnesses from Houla (who are neither pro-regime nor pro-armed rebels, who strongly emphasize they need to stay anonymous for not being killed): I am not convinced of the official version, however I consider the version I have put forward for much more credible. Why?
1) Nobody did an investigation on the ground which shed light on what had happened. The UN-observers do neither have the mandate nor the means to do the investigation, and when they reached Houla (and other places) they had been received by hostility. How does someone expect to hear in Houla the truth? Each of us is caught in a propaganda war which is as important as the war with weapons. Houla is, according the FSA, under the control of the armed revels. Who would dare to speak against them? There is a state of lawlessness as in many other parts of Syria.
2) Two families had been targeted and liquidated in a city of 25.000. They lived in three very different neighborhoods of Taldu which are far away from each other. All their neighbors with different names had been spared. If Shabiha from outside would have entered the city, unfamiliar on who's who, how could they have targeted just those two families and no one else? And why should they have done it, since the two families had been known to be the pro-regime families in Taldu, with the police officers etc amongst them?
3) The only similarity between the regime's account and mine is that I reject the responsibility of the regime. However I do not hold the FSA responsible, since there is no FSA, but I say it was a settling of accounts within Taldu. Even if I would follow the regime's version: The regime might not always be wrong (even Saddam Hussein was right with his very late claim that he does not possess weapons of mass destruction, but nobody believed him any more), and certainly the rebels are not always right. And by the way, do you remember the massacre of Bentalha 1997?
Regards
Rainer Hermann"