The Hama massacre (Arabic: مجزرة حماة) occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad.
The Hama massacre, personally conducted by president Assad's younger brother, Rifaat al-Assad, effectively ended the campaign begun in 1976 by Sunni Islamic groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, against Assad's regime, whose leaders were disproportionately from president Assad's own Alawite sect.
Initial diplomatic reports from western countries stated that only 1000 were killed. Subsequent estimates vary, with the lower estimates claiming that at least 10,000 Syrian citizens were killed, the majority civilians, while others put the number at 20,000 (Robert Fisk), or 40,000 (Syrian Human Rights Committee). About 1,000 Syrian soldiers were killed during the operation and large parts of the old city were destroyed. Alongside events like the Black September massacre in Jordan, the attack has been described as among "the single deadliest acts by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East". The vast majority of the victims were civilians.