Syria accused of new ‘massacre’
UN observers evacuated from town
Syrian forces were accused yesterday of having executed 15 civilians, as the office of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said UN observers were evacuated from a tense town a day after a blast hit their convoy.
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, however, accused the West of ignoring violence by “terrorists” and said he would demand an explanation from Mr Annan when he visits Damascus later this month.
“After regime forces raided the neighbourhood of Shammas (in the central city of Homs), 15 civilians were found summarily executed,” Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, in what he branded a massacre.
The overnight killings came a day after the Observatory accused troops of another massacre in Khan Sheikhun, in the northwestern province of Idlib, when they opened fire on a funeral procession and reportedly killed 20 people. At least 11 more people were killed in incidents around the country yesterday, the Observatory said, while another four died of wounds suffered during the funeral in Khan Sheikhun.
During Tuesday’s funeral, a convoy of UN observers was struck by a homemade bomb, damaging three vehicles but causing no casualties. Because of blast damage to their car, six members of the team were forced to spend the night with activists in Khan Sheikhun, which came under heavy regime shelling, an activist said. Mr Annan’s office said the UN mission had picked up the six military observers and that they were back at their team site in Hama. It was the second roadside bombing involving the military observers’ vehicles in less than a week.