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Reports of alleged massacre in Hama province, Again

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 8th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

United Nations observers have been prevented access to an alleged scene of a massacre in Hama province in Syria. In a statement, Norwegian General Robert Mood says that observers were stopped and turned back by the Syrian army.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although Mood is authorized by the Syrian government, he added that some U.N. patrols were being stopped by civilians, who told them that they would be at risk if they entered the province.

The UN mission had received reports of a mass killing in al-Qubayr, a small village. Opposition activists said that pro-government armed groups backed by security forces had killed scores of people there.

The Syria's Local Co-ordination Committees, an activist network, in addition to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that more than 86 people had been killed.

Syria's government denies any role in the killings. "What a few media have reported on what happened in al-Qubayr, in the Hama region, is completely false," the government said on official television.

"A terrorist group committed a heinous crime in the Hama region which claimed nine victims. The reports by the media are contributing to spilling the blood of Syrians," the statement said.

An activist in Hama, has told reporters with Al Jazeera that the attack bore similarities to last month's massacre in Houla, and said the government was seeking to create an "atmosphere of terror and intimidation," saying that the Syrian army had prepared the way by shelling the area before pro-government gangs descended on the village.

"Most of victims were burnt in their houses, many of them were slaughtered by knives in a very ugly way," he said, saying that women and children were among the dead.

In regards to the United Nations, he said that "Unfortunately they do nothing to protect us, they just come the next day after the massacres to film the corpses and see how we bury our victims . They are just watching us die," he said.

News of the alleged massacre prompted the opposition Syrian National Council to issue a statement calling on fighters aligned with the anti-government Free Syrian Army to "escalate battlefield action" to ease pressure on civilians "under siege, shelling and assaults in the provinces of Hama, Latakia and Homs."

Western and Arab nations have met in Istanbul in Turkey, to discuss the crisis in Syria.

The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had told the group that transition in the country should include a "full transfer of power" from President Bashar al-Assad, the creation of a fully representative interim government and free and fair elections.

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