Conflict & Justice

Syria: UN observers head for village massacre site


A Syrian flag flutters outside a military barrack in the devastated Bab Amro neighbourhood of the central restive city of Homs on May 2, 2012.


Joseph Eid

A team of United Nations observers is headed for the Syrian village of Tremseh, where activists accuse the government of murdering up to 200 people, Al Jazeera reported.

UN officials said the observers, who have been staying in the capital Damascus, had left for Tremseh, in the central Hama province, in a convoy of three vehicles.

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The move comes after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an immediate cease fire in and around Hama to allow the UN observer mission to enter.

Observer chief Major General Robert Mood said his team, whose mandate is due to end next week, was ready to investigate if a cease-fire deal was reached.

Meanwhile the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, warned the Security Council that failure to take immediate action on Syria is "a license for further massacres," Agence France Presse reported.

Plus, in a statement to the Security Council, international envoy Kofi Annan on Friday accused the Syrian government of violating his peace plan, adding that he was shocked by Syria's use of artillery, tanks and helicopters against the village of Tremseh.

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Clinton suggested the army "deliberately murdered civilians," the BBC reported, but Damascus said the violence was a military operation against rebel fighters, which state television reports referred to as "terrorist groups."

The Syrian government said there were no detailed reports of civilian casualties.

The Security Council is continuing talks on two rival resolutions, one drafted by Russia, and another from a group of Western nations — which gives the government of Bashar al-Assad 10 days to stop the use of heavy weapons.

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Diplomatic maneuvers aside, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more people died early today in ongoing violence, the Now Lebanon news site reported.

At least five people were killed in the central province of Homs, while the government was accused of launching helicopter attacks in the southern province of Deraa.

Following helicopter bombing raids, "tanks and hundreds of soldiers stormed Khirbet Ghazaleh amid heavy gunfire," the Observatory said, adding that Syrian forces were helped by fighters from the pro-regime Shabiha militia.

Activists say an estimated 118 people were killed across Syria on Friday, a day after the Tremseh massacre.

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