New massacre discovered in Syria
Another massacre of civilians has taken place in Syria with militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killing 13 people.
The victims, all of them factory workers, were taken off a bus in the western village of Qusair and robbed before being killed. Video footage released by Mr Assad's opponents shows 13 disfigured bodies. Some of the victims appeared to have been shot in the head or stomach at close range.
The latest bloodshed followings the deaths of at least 108 people, 49 of whom were children, in the massacre in Houla last Friday. The opposition blamed both incidents on the “al-Shabiha”, a pro-regime militia recruited exclusively from Mr Assad's Alawite sect.
However, the regime has officially blamed the Houla massacre on the Syrian rebels, who were allegedly trying to trigger foreign military intervention.
The latest report of a massacre has not yet been independently verified. But the United Nations has deployed 290 observers in the country to monitor compliance with a ceasefire required by the peace plan devised by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general.
These outside observers have verified previous claims of mass killings, notably the deaths in Houla.
The UN Human Rights Council will meet in emergency session in Geneva later today to discuss the situation in Syria. Western governments are expected to press for clear condemnation of Mr Assad's regime. A draft resolution deplores the violence and says that anyone “responsible for serious violations of human rights must be held accountable”.
But it refrains from stating how that might be achieved. Britain, France and other European Union countries on the Council are expected to press for tougher language.
However, this 47-member body has no power to impose sanctions or take any other steps against the Syrian authorities.