Friday 19 January 2018

Unarmed UN team attacked after village bloodbath

Adrian Blomfield and Mark Hughes

UN monitors were shot at as they tried to reach the site of the latest massacre of Syrian villagers on Wednesday.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fired at the monitoring team with small arms, preventing them from reaching the village in Hama province, where at least 78 people were killed.

The bloodshed in Qubeir bore a strong resemblance to the mass killing of 108 Sunnis in the town of Houla on May 25, which prompted 13 countries to register their revulsion by expelling Syrian diplomats.

Despite the UN reports that their monitoring team had been attacked, a pro-government Syrian television station claimed the unarmed force did reach the village of Mazraat al-Qubeir.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon laid the blame for the attack on the regime, saying the killings happened when the hamlet was surrounded by government forces.

"The trail of blood leads back to those responsible," he said. "Any regime that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity."

Mr Ban, speaking at the start of a special UN General Assembly session on the Syrian crisis, condemned the massacre and called again on Assad to immediately implement international mediator Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan.

"Today's reports of another massacre . . . are shocking and sickening," he told the 193-nation assembly in New York.

"A village apparently surrounded by Syrian forces. The bodies of innocent civilians lying where they were shot. Some allegedly burned or slashed with knives.

"We condemn this unspeakable barbarity and renew our determination to bring those responsible to account," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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