Syria Accused of New Massacre: 78 People Killed In Hama

Activists claim pro-government militia men and security forces killed at least 78 people, including women and children, in Syria’s central province of Hama on Wednesday.

Syrian troops and militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad stood accused by opponents on Thursday of a new massacre of scores of villagers hours before a divided U.N. Security Council convenes to review the crisis. Photo: Syria Freedom/Flickr

Syrian opposition activists said that at least 78 people were killed in one Syrian village Mazraat al-Qabeer, near Hama, on Wednesday, with at least half of the dead women and children, according to CNN.

Some of those killed were stabbed to death, the activists said, and at least 12 bodies had been burned.

One activist said that there were “Dozens of civilians killed with knives.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “shabbiha headed into the area after the shelling and killed dozens of citizens, among them women and children,” reports Reuters.

Rami Abdulrahman, a spokesman for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that he could not give a specific number “until all names have been confirmed.”

Activists called for an immediate investigation, writes The Huff Post.

“The Syrian Observatory for Human rights calls on the international monitors to go immediately to the area. They should not wait to tomorrow to investigate this new massacre,” the British-based Observatory said in a statement.

“They should not give the excuse that their mission is only to observe the ceasefire, because many massacres have been committed during their presence in Syria.”

Qubeir is a small farming village of 200 people in Hama province, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

The new massacre will be the second act of violence in Syria in less than two weeks. In May, over 100 people, including dozens of women and children, were killed in Houla, Homs province.

Events in Syria are difficult to confirm because state authorities tightly restrict access for international media.

The Syrian state news agency said the reports from Mazraat al-Qabeer as “completely false”, adding that security forces had intervened at the request of residents after a “terrorist group committed … a monstrous crime”, killing nine women and children.

“An official source in Hama says that the security forces have responded to calls for help and complaints from the people in al-Qubeir … and raided a terrorist cell and killed a number of them and confiscated their weapons,” state TV reported.

The failure of a ceasefire brokered in March by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan to halt the bloodshed has raised questions about its continued worth. Annan is to brief the Security Council later on Thursday in New York.

U.N. diplomats said they expected Kofi Annan to present the Security Council with a new proposal to rescue his failing peace plan – a “contact group” of world and regional powers.

The main point of Annan’s proposal was to get Russia to commit to the idea of a Syrian political transition.

U.N. diplomats said Annan hopes his new idea can prevent a total collapse of his plan for a truce and negotiated political solution.

Meanwhile, ministers and envoys from 15 countries and the European Union agreed at a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday to convene a “coordination group” to provide support to the opposition but left unclear what this may entail.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among officials from Europe, Turkey and Arab states who discussed “additional steps” that will include coordination on an “effective and credible transition process” to lead to a “democratic, post-Assad Syria,” a Turkish statement said.

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