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Massacre in Syria

UN special envoy Kofi Annan said he was “shocked and appalled”.

AMMAN/BEIRUT — About 220 Syrians, mostly civilians, were killed in a village in the rebellious Hama region when it was bombarded by helicopter gunships and tanks then stormed by militiamen who slaughtered some families, opposition sources said today.

UN special envoy Kofi Annan said he was “shocked and appalled” by news of “intense fighting, significant casualties, and the confirmed use of heavy weaponry such as artillery, tanks and helicopters” in the village of Tremseh.

“I condemn these atrocities in the strongest possible terms,” Annan said in a statement.

There were no independent accounts of the number of dead or how they were killed. UN monitors in Syria are currently confined to Damascus because of mounting violence.

An activist video – the only film record to appear so far – showed the bloodied corpses of 15 young men with faces or shirts drenched in blood. Most wore T-shirts and jeans.

Syrian state television said there had been fighting in Tremseh and accused “armed terrorist groups” of committing a massacre there, but gave no death toll. It said three soldiers had been killed.

Opposition reports also said rebels of the Free Syrian Army had been killed in a battle. Lieutenant Ibrahim Zuait al-Tarkawai was among rebels who died “defending the people of Tremseh”, the Hama Revolution Leadership Council said.

“We can verify continuous fighting yesterday in the area of Tremseh,” said United Nations monitoring mission chief General Robert Mood. “This involved mechanised units, indirect fire, as well as helicopters,” he said.

UN monitors were ready to “go in and seek verification of facts if and when there is a credible ceasefire”, he said. (Reuters)

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