(AP) Syria envoy ‘appalled’ over massacre report
By BEN HUBBARD
International envoy Kofi Annan says he is “shocked and appalled” by reports of a mass killing in the Syrian village of Tremseh.
Syrian activists have posted videos they say show at least 17 of the dozens of people reportedly killed in heavy government shelling of a farming village in central Syria on Thursday.
Annan brokered a peace plan for Syria that has been widely flouted by both sides of the conflict. On Friday, he singled out the government for criticism _ saying the Tremseh killings violate “the government’s undertaking to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centers.”
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Syrian activists have posted videos they say show at least 17 of the dozens of people reportedly killed in heavy government shelling of a farming village in central Syria.
If confirmed, the massacre in the village of Tremseh would be the latest in a string of deadly assaults by President Bashar Assad’s regime as it tries to crush dissent since a nationwide uprising erupted over a year ago.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said early Friday it had reports of more than 150 killed in heavy government shelling there the previous day, though it had collected only 30 names of the victims.
One of the posted videos shows the dead bodies of 15 men lined up on a floor. Some are covered in blood and have wounds to their heads and chests. A second video shows a man’s body lying on a hospital gurney.
Yet another video shows a young man wailing over the body of an elderly grey-haired man wrapped in a blanket and lying in the street.
Much remains unclear about Thursday’s killings in Tremseh, a farming village some 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of the central city of Hama. Another group, the Local Coordination Committees, said Friday the dead numbered more than 200. It gave no information on how it arrived at that number.
One resident, Laith al-Hamwi, said by phone midday Thursday that government troops were shelling Tremseh with tanks from nearby locations and that many people had fled. He said he thought more than 60 people had been killed but that no one could enter the village because of the shelling.
Residents could not immediately be reached by telephone on Friday, and activist claims and videos could not be independently verified.
The Syrian government gave a very different story of the Tremseh killing, with the state news agency saying that dozens of members of “armed terrorist groups” had raided the village and were randomly firing on residents.
Security forces clashed with the armed men, killing and capturing many of them, the report said. It said three soldiers and some 50 residents were killed.
The agency provided no photos or videos. Assad’s regime has denied popular calls for political reform since the start of the country’s revolt in March, 2011, and refers to those seeking its overthrow as terrorists.
According to activists’ estimates, the conflict is believed to have killed more than 17,000 people, most of them civilians. The government says more than 4,000 members of the security forces have been killed. It does not provide numbers of civilian dead.