DAMASCUS: Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “massacred” about 100 people including women and children, the opposition said, as the US demanded a full transfer of power in the country.
The call by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set the stage for a renewed diplomatic stand-off over Syria, after Russia and China said they were strongly against intervention and regime change.
If reports of the killings in the central province of Hama prove accurate they will rank among the worst atrocities in Syria’s 15-month uprising against Assad’s embattled regime.
“We have 100 deaths in the village of Al-Kubeir, among them 20 women and 20 children,” Mohammed Sermini, spokesman for the exiled opposition Syrian National Council, told AFP.
He accused the regime of being behind the “massacre”.
Other sources also reported a mass killing had taken place in the same area, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tentatively put the number of dead at 87.
The Syrian government on Thursday denied responsibility, saying in a televised statement: “What a few media have reported on what happened in Al-Kubeir, in the Hama region, is completely false.”
“A terrorist group committed a heinous crime in the Hama region which claimed nine victims,” the statement said. But the Britain-based Observatory said in a statement that pro-regime shabiha militia armed with guns and knives carried out the “new massacre” at a farm after shelling by regular troops.