Hama massacre fuels calls on Assad to quit
ISTANBUL / UNITED NATIONS
Funeral procession of Khaled Hamdan, who was allegedly killed by Syrian security troops in the Damascus al-Qabun neighbourhood in this June 5 photo. AFP photo
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “lost all legitimacy” following an attack on U.N. team inspecting a new massacre in Hama, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said yesterday, hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on him to leave the country.
Any regime that tolerates killings like yesterday’s massacre of 102 people “has lost its fundamental humanity,” Ban said. “Al-Assad has doubled down on his brutality and duplicity,” Clinton said. “The time has come for the world to unite around a plan for post-Assad Syria.”
U.N. envoy Kofi Annan called for a “new level” of international action to halt the violence, adding that al-Assad should face “consequences” for the worsening conflict. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the killings, saying, “Mass crimes committed against civilian people cannot be left unpunished.”
New massacre in Syria triggers world’s outrage
A new massacre took place central Hama city of Syria where at least 70 civillians, including women and children, were reportedly killed by the pro-regime militiamen, causing anger around the world.
Syria’s main opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Council, said 78 people were killed in the village of Mazraat al-Qubair in central Hama province, when government-aligned militiamen converged there from neighboring pro-regime villages. Some of the dead were killed execution-style, and others were slain with knives, the SNC said. Damascus however denied the opposition claims as “absolutely baseless.”
Ankara condemns massacre
Turkey has strongly condemned the violence in Marzaat al-Qubair, and called on the international community not to leave the crimes unpunished. “It is the joint conscientious responsibility of the international community to put an end to this course,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a written statement late yesterday. “Mass crimes committed against civilian people cannot be left unpunished,” the statement read, adding that this amount of violence obliged the start of a transition process to democracy in line with the demands of the Syrian people. British Prime Minister David Cameron urged concerted action by the international community against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime following the latest reports. Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said pro-government militiamen known as shabiha first shelled the farming area and then went in and killed the residents there. Gen. Robert Mood, the head of the observer mission in Syria, however, said that the U.N. patrols headed to the village were stopped at Syrian army checkpoints and in some cases turned back. Damascus insisted it was facilitating the work of the observers in the country.
The reports came just weeks after more than 100 people were killed in one day in a cluster of villages known as Houla in the central province of Homs. Meanwhile, Russia yesterday said the new massacre was a provocation aimed at undermining the faltering peace plan of Annan.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.