Monitors shot at trying to reach Syria ‘massacre’ site: UN chief

The reports of this massacre came just weeks after over 100 people were killed at Houla

Written by Associated Press | Beirut | Published:June 8, 2012 12:54 am

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said unarmed UN monitors came under fire on Thursday as they tried to reach the scene of the latest Syrian mass killing. Activists said government forces killed nearly 80 people,including women and children,who were shot,hacked to death and burned in their homes.

The reports of this massacre came just weeks after over 100 people were killed at Houla in central Homs province. The Houla massacre brought international outrage and a coordinated expulsion of Syrian diplomats from world capitals.

Ban told the UN General Assembly that the monitors “were shot at with small arms” as they tried to reach Mazraat al-Qubair,a farming area in the central Hama province. The group was initially denied access. He did not mention any casualties and it was not clear who was behind the shooting.

International envoy Kofi Annan had a grim assessment of the coming days. “If things do not change,the future is likely to be one of brutal repression,massacres,sectarian violence,and even all-out civil war,’’ he said. “All Syrians will lose”.

Syria denied that its forces committed a massacre as “absolutely baseless’’ and blamed the violence on terrorists trying to provoke foreign military intervention to topple Assad.

Leith Al-Hamwy,a resident of Mazraat al-Qubair,said troops shelled the area for five hours on Wednesday before government-aligned militiamen,known as shabiha,entered the area,“killing and hacking everyone they could find”.

Syria’s main opposition group in exile,the Syrian National Council,also confirmed the massacre.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the Syrian government,saying,“The regime-sponsored violence that we witnessed again in Hama yesterday is simply unconscionable.’’

The exact death toll and circumstances of the killings overnight in Mazraat were impossible to confirm.

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