UN observers enter Syrian massacre town

Vehicles belonging to United Nations observers are parked in front of a hotel in Damascus (Photo: Reuters – Khaled al-Hariri)

Published Saturday, July 14, 2012

United Nations observers on Saturday visited the central Syrian village of Traimseh, a UN spokeswoman in Damascus said on Saturday, two days after at least 100 people were killed there.

"We were informed yesterday that a ceasefire was granted in Traimseh. So we sent a patrol on a reconnaissance mission. The patrol assessed the situation," Sausan Ghosheh said in an email.

"We have sent a large integrated patrol today to seek verification of the facts," she said, adding that it consisted of both civilian and military experts.

An activist in the Hama province confirmed the visit to AFP, saying the observers had met residents of the village and "inspected places that were bombed and where there were traces of blood."

Earlier UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for united action on Syria, warning that divisions within the international community were giving Damascus a license to kill.

Ban, the UN secretary general, lashed out at the regime following Traimseh killing, which the government has blamed on armed rebels.

He called for the United Nations Security Council to urgently act to stop the bloodshed as its failure would give "a license for further massacres."

"I call upon all member states to take collective and decisive action to immediately and fully stop the tragedy unfolding in Syria. Inaction becomes a license for further massacres," he said.

The massacre has added urgency to deadlocked Security Council negotiations on a Syria resolution.

Russia and China have threatened to veto any Western-backed proposal that demands President Bashar al-Assad steps down, demanding that any decision on the fate of the leader be made by the Syrian people.

Iran said on Saturday it was ready to play a role to establish a dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition with the aim of reaching a peace treaty.

"Iran is ready to play an appropriate role in bringing stability and security in Syria" to prevent the crisis "quickly spreading to the whole region," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told an Iranian newspaper.

Tehran has previously offered to help resolve the crisis, but has been rejected by Western and Gulf Arab monarchies which accuse it of militarily aiding Assad's regime to suppress a rebellion.

In return, Iran has accused some Western and Arab countries of arming Syrian rebel fighters with the aim of toppling the Assad regime.

In his remarks published on Saturday, Mehmanparast again criticized "certain regional countries (who) believe that by arming the rebels, they can solve the Syrian crisis."

"Instead of fueling conflicts and pushing Syria towards a civil war, these countries should use their influence to create a climate of dialogue between the government and the opposition," he added.

Rebel abuses

Elsewhere a senior human rights investigator said that Syrian rebel fighters are committing human rights abuses as they battle Assad's forces.

Donatella Rovera, an investigator with the rights group Amnesty International who recently spent several weeks in Syria, said it was clear that some opposition supporters had resorted to brutal tactics as they target members of the security forces.

"They capture people, we've seen evidence of them having beaten them up...and in some cases they have killed them," Rovera told Reuters.

The strength of the armed opposition is growing, she said earlier in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and as clashes intensify, individual members are lashing out and committing human rights abuses by beating, detaining and killing Assad's soldiers.

Amnesty International is tracking these abuses in part by the YouTube videos members of the Free Syrian Army post online when they interview detainees.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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