Dozens of bullet-ridden bodies pulled out of Syria river


Syrian rebels take cover during clashes with regime forces at the Umayyad Mosque in the old city of Aleppo hours before the Syrian army retook control of the complex on October 14, 2012.


Tauseef Mustafa

The bodies of at least 65 men seemingly killed execution-style were dredged out of a Syrian river on Tuesday, said The Wall Street Journal, citing activists. 

The head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Osama Sleiman (also known as Rami Abdel-Rahman), told WSJ

"What we know: at least 65 males were summarily executed some shot in the head ... This is a crime and massacre for which the international community bears responsibility because it's doing little to achieve a democratic transition in Syria."

It was not clear who was responsible for the violence, but the brutality is yet another reminder of the horrific battle under way in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad has been fighting an armed insurrection against his rule.

Reuters, citing an unverified opposition video, said 51 bodies of military-age men could be seen being pulled out of the Queiq River in Bustan Al-Qasr, a town near Syria's northwestern city of Aleppo.

CNN put the toll at 81, citing local residents. The town is controlled by rebels, according to Reuters. Also crediting an opposition video (it was not immediately clear if it was the same one referred to by Reuters), CNN said the victims appeared to have been gunned down, many had hands bound behind their backs, while others looked like they might have been tortured. 

Opposition activists blamed Assad for the Queiq River violence, according to the Wall Street Journal, while the Observatory confirmed to Reuters that the death toll there could be as high as 80.

At least 60,000 people are believed to have been killed in the violence in Syria. International efforts to help end the crisis there have not been successful.