New massacre claims as Syria meet eyes huge aid
Most of those killed in Aleppo had had their hands tied behind their backs before being shot in the head, according to eyewitnesses’ unverified reports. AA photoThe bodies of at least 65 young men and boys, all executed with a single gunshot to the head or neck, were found yesterday in the Quweiq River, which separates the Bustan al-Qasr district from Ansari in the southwest of the city, in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and rebels said. The watchdog said the toll could rise significantly.
A Free Syrian Army officer at the scene said at least 68 bodies had been recovered and that many more were still being dragged from the water in a rebel-held area. “So far we have recovered 68 bodies, some of them just teens,” said Capt. Abu Sada, adding that all of them had been “executed by the regime.” “But there must be more than 100. There are still many in the water, and we are trying to recover them.”
A senior government security source said many of the victims were from Bustan al-Qasr and had been reported kidnapped earlier. He accused “terrorists,” the standard regime term for people fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, of carrying out the executions and spreading propaganda to deflect responsibility.
“It has been confirmed that a number of the victims had been abducted by armed terrorist groups and their families had made repeated attempts to negotiate their releases. Now these terrorist groups are creating a media campaign, showing the bodies being recovered from the Quweiq River in an area under their control,” he said.
A volunteer said as he helped load one of the bodies on a truck, “We don’t know who they are because there was no ID on them.” Most have their hands tied behind their backs and pools of blood trail from their heads.
NGOs pledge millions
Meanwhile, nongovernmental charity organizations, meeting yesterday in Kuwait ahead of a major donors conference hosted by the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO), pledged $182 million for Syrian civilians affected by the deadly conflict. About 77 local, regional and international NGOs took part in the one-day event.
The head of IICO, Abdullah al-Maatuq, said at the meeting that the funds raised would go toward aiding the millions of Syrians displaced within the war-torn country or who have fled to neighboring countries.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kuwait to attend the meeting, which will be opened by Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah amid local reports he would announce a pledge worth $500 million.
A U.N-sponsored International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria is scheduled to open in Kuwait today with the aim of raising $1.5 billion in aid for around 5 million Syrians.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius pleaded on Jan. 28 for countries to keep their promises of funding and other aid to the Syrian opposition or risk compromising the legitimacy of the coalition in the eyes of the people fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. He said it was urgent to fulfill vows to help, both in humanitarian and political ways. “We have to give the Syrian people a clear signal: We are at your side,” he said.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.