AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
DAMASCUS: Syrian forces were accused today of having “executed” 15 civilians, as the office of envoy Kofi Annan said members of a UN observer team were evacuated a day after a bomb blast hit their convoy.
“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 one day after regime forces were accused of another massacre in the town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Idlib when they opened fire on a funeral procession and reportedly killed 20 people.
Abdel Rahman said a 43-year-old Muslim cleric who had six children was among those killed in Homs. The killings were reported hours after the Observatory said regime troops shot dead at least five people in a new assault in Khan Sheikhun and opened fire on a refugee camp in Daraa to the south, killing three civilians.
Regime forces today also killed a young man in a raid on Mleiha al-Aatsh village of Daraa province, the watchdog said. And in Homs province, a civilian was killed in Rastan under regime bombardment, the Observatory said.
During the funeral in Khan Sheikhun, a convoy of UN truce observers was struck by a homemade bomb, damaging three vehicles but causing no casualties, the UN said.
Six members of the team were forced because of blast damage to the car to spend last night with activists in Khan Sheikhun, which was under under regime shelling, an activist said.
“The UN Supervision Mission in Syria reports today that it has picked up the six UN Military Observers who had to stay overnight in Khan Sheikhun. They are now back in their team site in Hama,” the office of UN-Arab League envoy Annan said in a statement.
The blast came as the observers made their way in a convoy of vehicles along a narrow street in Khan Sheikhun, said activists, rebels and the watchdog.
The United Nations, which accuses both sides of violating an April 12 ceasefire, reaffirmed its condemnation of any violence against the monitors.
Meanwhile, Annan urged Syria to stop delaying an agreement on allowing UN access to more than one million Syrians in need of assistance, saying the process had been “very slow.”
The bloodshed comes despite the truce brokered by Annan as part of a six-point plan aimed at ending violence that has swept Syria since March 2011 when the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began.
The Washington Post reported today that Syria’s rebels have seen an influx of arms including anti-tank weaponry, in an effort coordinated with the help of the United States. Officials in President Barack Obama’s administration insist it is not directly supplying the weapons or providing funding, with Gulf states paying for the new arms, the newspaper said.
MOSCOW: Countries that “sow chaos” in Syria could suffer from it themselves, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a Russian television station in an interview aired on Wednesday. “For the leaders of these countries, it’s becoming clear that this is not ‘Spring’ but chaos, and as I have said, if you sow chaos in Syria you may be infected by it yourself, and they understand this perfectly well,” Assad told state-run Rossiya-24, referring to the Arab Spring that toppled long-entrenched leaders in the Middle East.