Reports of new Syrian massacre
Mon, 27 Aug 2012 5:03a.m.
By Jamal Halaby
Britain said Sunday it was deeply concerned by emerging reports of a "brutal massacre of civilians" in a Damascus suburb where activists claim more than 300 people have been killed over the past week in a major government offensive to take back control of rebel-held areas in and around the capital.
The British-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 32 more dead bodies were found in the streets of Daraya on Sunday and that they had been killed by "gunfire and summary executions." Among them were three women and two children, the group said. It put the toll for the past week at at least 320.
Another activist group, The Local Communication Committees, claimed 300 bodies were discovered Saturday in Daraya and 633 people have been killed there since the government launched its assault last week.
Britain's Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said if confirmed, the massacre "would be an atrocity on a new scale requiring unequivocal condemnation from the entire international community." He added that it "highlights the urgent need for international action to bring an end to the violence, end this culture of impunity and hold to account those responsible for these terrible acts."
Burt said he had discussed the killings with U.N. and Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.
It is impossible to independently verify the death tolls for the town because of severe restrictions on media coverage of the conflict. However, activists and residents have reported excessive use of force by the regime in major battles, with indiscriminate shelling from the ground and the air.
The LCC said some of those killed by regime forces in Daraya were buried in mass graves on Sunday. Video footage posted by the group showed bloodied bodies wrapped in colourful blankets lying next to each other with branches of date palms strewn over them.
Another video posted on the Internet and dated Saturday shows dozens of bodies on the floor of a mosque in Daraya. Most of the bodies are bloodied and wrapped in blankets. The anonymous commentator said there were at least 150 bodies there and blamed a pro-government militia known as shabiha for the killings. The authenticity of the two videos could not be independently confirmed.
On Thursday, troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships stormed Daraya after intense shelling and fighting that lasted days.
The battle for Daraya showed the regime to be struggling to control Damascus and its suburbs though the firepower available to it is far superior than anything the rebels might have. Government forces are stretched thin, with a major ongoing battle for control of the nation's largest city, Aleppo in the north, as well as smaller scale operations in the east and south.
On Sunday, regime forces also used helicopter gunships and tanks to pound rebel-held areas in the northern city of Aleppo and the restive southern town of Daraa along the Jordanian border. The Observatory said it had reports of fatalities, but did not have exact numbers yet.
Activists say more than 20,000 people have died in 17 months of fighting in Syria, as an uprising that started with peaceful protests against Assad's rule has morphed into a civil war.
In Damascus, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa appeared in public for the first time in several weeks for a meeting with a senior Iranian official, ending rumours that he had defected. Reporters saw him get out of his car and walk to his office for a meeting with Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of Iran's powerful parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy.
There have been a series of high-level defections from the Assad regime in the past few months.
Al-Sharaa was last seen at the funeral of four top security officials killed in a blast in Damascus on July 18. Since then, there had been rumours that he defected to Jordan, though al-Sharaa's office and Jordan repeatedly denied he defected. He was seen at the door of his office, shaking hands with Boroujerdi, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. He said al-Sharaa looked serious and steered away from reporters covering the meeting. He did not make a statement.
Pan-Arab satellite channel Al Arabiya reported that air force intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Jamil Hassan had been assassinated, but a senior government official denied it. The official insisted on anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media. The Al Arabiya report said Hassan, a powerful member of Assad's inner circle and religious Alawite minority, was shot dead Saturday by one of his aides who defected to the opposition.
Addounia TV, a pro-Syrian government channel, also denied the report. It said Hassan is "fine and the news about his killing is absolutely untrue."
In neighbouring Jordan, officials say the country is bracing for a mass exodus of Syrians in the wake of intensified fighting.
Jordan appealed for increased international assistance to 160,000 Syrian refugees it is hosting. Information Minister Sameeh Maaytah said the refugee influx has swelled even further, with more than 2,300 Syrians crossing into Jordan on Friday - the largest arrival in a single day since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in March 2011.
"The number of refugees is growing and our limited resources are thinning," Maaytah said. "The international community should come to the aid of the Syrian refugees."
The United Nations refugee agency said it has yet to secure half of the $190 million aid appeal launched earlier this year to support Jordan and other countries hosting some 200,000 registered Syrian refugees.
Jordanian police spokesman Col. Mohammed Khatib said a Syrian rocket fell in the northern border town of Ramtha late Saturday, but no injuries were reported. It was the seventh rocket to fall in Jordan in five days, underlining the intensity of the army assault on southern Syrian towns such as Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising against Assad.
A police statement said 200 Syrian refugees pelted stones on Jordanian security guarding their desert camp late Saturday, wounding several policemen. The refugees were protesting poor conditions at the camp.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
30/08/2012 2:06:16 a.m.
Jim Seaview wrote:
QUOTE: BLABLABLA wrote:Such sad loss especially as it is undermined by US and Israel. No conspiracy just fact - ???????With all due respect to Blablabla and Mercury Whisper - I truly do not know who to believe. I see videos of atrocities and gunships being used against what appears to be other Arabs. A question I keep asking is and maybe you should also be asking also 'What assistance has Syria received from the 23 oil rich states which make up the Arab League. Syria is an Arab problem in the middle of Arabia and should have been fixed by the Arab League over a year ago.The Arab League should have formed an Arab Peacekeeping force, who would understand the region, the Arab customs, religion & culture and the language far better than any Un Force could muster. Money, arms and people would not be a problem - only a firm committment to assist their brothers & sisters who are desperate.I suppose both of you could not expect other Arab nations to help their Syrian Arab brothers & sisters who are being slaughtered without mercy, as they have - despite their immense wealth have never shown any eagerness to actively assist in their history.Currently they are hiding behind the petticoats of the UN, waiting for them to provide a solution.I would object to New Zealanders being sent to risk their lives in Syria while the Arab States save their own lives.I am pleased that the UN has not tried to intervene with a UN Peacekeeping force as they would be primarily a non Muslim force and if they made a mistake - they would be blamed for not respecting Arab culture and protocols.The Arab League should be called the "Invisible Arab League" because that is exactly what they are.Does Syria have any real friends in Arabia?
27/08/2012 4:53:57 p.m.
mercury whisper wrote:
Its time three news received information from many sources and stop relying on activists for starters.unbiased truth please,and dont take the New Zealand citizen for a fool .the western governments are up to their eye balls supporting Israel,US,Britian to change the Mideast for their own selfish gain, we also know, when an animals territory is threatened that animal will fight for his right to defend against intruders until the death Kiwis are the same..so lets stop the biased reporting TV3. tell the real truth in you news articles .humble request .
27/08/2012 2:44:57 p.m.
How about reporting how many civilians killed by the britain during gulf wars? Or is that too shocking to report?
27/08/2012 1:02:03 p.m.
Such sad loss especially as it is undermined by US and Israel. No conspiracy just fact - agents posing as rebel fighters started the unrest/war. One more step to the sea and one more neighbour to strike off for Israel. Did not count on Russia supplying arms to fight the rebels and the civilians are the ones paying for it in loss of life and property. Anyone there stop to say "why are we waring and killing within our own country"? Is the killing really necessary. What was it really about, can anyone remember? Was it worth killing for?
GlaxoSmithKline has joined forces with aid agency Save the Children to provide a...
A series of scandals is threatening to derail US president Barack Obama's second...
The United States' Obama administration denounced Russia on Friday for providing...
A former politician says that police brutality in South Africa is as bad now as ...
A senior Australian politician has fallen foul of social media. ...
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.