Seven peace workers killed in Syria
Published 16/07/2013 | 12:44
Pro-government gunmen in Syria have killed seven members of a local reconciliation committee in the central province of Homs, activists said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the men were Sunni Muslims working to convince gunmen to drop their weapons and return to normal life.
They were killed in the village of Hajar Abyad, where residents are known to be regime supporters. The Observatory said the dead included two retired army officers, a mosque preacher and a former mayor.
Elsewhere, troops shot dead nine people including a child at an army checkpoint in the suburb of Qarah in Damascus.
It was not clear whether those killed were fighters or civilians. An amateur video showed several dead men and a boy with a bloodied face. The dead appeared to have suffered bullet wounds, some to the head.
The killings come four days after rebels attacked a nearby army checkpoint, killing seven including members of the military. An amateur video showed the seven covered in sheets and each had his name on his chest. They appeared to have been tortured.
Meanwhile, the UK Government is to give Syrian opposition fighters 5,000 escape hoods to protect against chemical weapons attacks, Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
Mr Hague said the Government would also be sending "moderate" opposition forces nerve agent pre-treatment tablets and chemical weapons detector paper.
He said the chemical weapons hoods protect against Sarin attacks for up to 20 minutes. Those who wear them are able to move away from an affected area but cannot continue to fight, he said. Meanwhile the tablets can give those under a chemical weapons attack the time to get to a medical centre to receive atropine, the drug needed to overcome sarin.
Mr Hague said the assistance will be offered to the Supreme Military Council and the Syrian National Coalition. The £656,800 cost of the non-lethal assistance will be met from the Government's conflict pool fund.