U.N. team visits Syrian town
BEIRUT – U.N. observers investigating a reported mass killing in a Syrian village on Saturday found pools of blood in homes and spent bullets, mortars and artillery shells, adding details to the emerging picture of what anti-regime activists have called one of the deadliest events of Syria’s uprising.
Dozens of people have already been buried in a mass grave, and activists are still struggling to determine the total number of people killed in what they say was a violent bombardment by government tanks and helicopters this week.
Some of the emerging details suggested that, rather than the outright bombing of civilians that the opposition has depicted, the violence in Tremseh may have been a lopsided fight between the army pursuing the opposition and activists and locals trying to defend the village. Nearly all of the dead are men. The U.N. observers said the assault appeared to target specific homes of army defectors or opposition figures.
The Tremseh violence appeared to be one of the bloodiest events in the now 16-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad. The new deaths brought intensified international condemnation of his regime, and the Turkish prime minister added his voice to the chorus Saturday.
“These vicious massacres, these attempts at genocide, these inhuman savageries are nothing but the footsteps of a regime that is on its way out,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
On Saturday, an 11-vehicle team of U.N. observers entered Tremseh, home to between 6,000-10,000 residents and one of a string of small farming villages along the Orontes River.
Based on its investigation, the team said in a statement that “an attack” took place on Thursday, but it did not give a casualty figure.