UN monitors on Friday got their first direct look at a farming village where nearly 80 men, women and children were reportedly killed in the latest massacre in Syria.
AFP reported that the monitors said they found body parts and damaged homes.
The monitors were able to enter the remote farming area of Mazraat al-Qubair on Friday, a day after being blocked by troops and coming under gunfire.
“You can smell the burnt smell of the dead bodies,” Sausan Ghosheh, spokeswoman for the UN observers, was quoted by AFP as having said. “You could also see body parts in and around the village.”
It was the most independent observation yet of a mass killing that was earlier reported by activists and Syrian government officials. Up to 78 men, women and children were hacked, stabbed, and burnt in the rural village in the central Homs district on Wednesday.
Ghosheh said that residents’ testimonies of the mass killing was “conflicting,” and that they needed to cross check the names of the missing and dead with the those supplied by nearby villagers. She added the village of Mazraat al-Qubair itself was “empty of the local inhabitants.”
The scenes that immediately struck her eye, said Ghosheh, were two homes damaged by shells and bullets. One home had burnt bodies inside, she said.
Also on Friday, explosions echoed over Damascus as Syrian troops clashed with rebels in some of the heaviest fighting yet in the capital in the 15-month uprising against President Bashar Assad.
Troops unleashed a heavy assault to retake a rebel-held neighborhood in a central flashpoint city, blasting it with heavy bombardment.
Friday’s fighting began when the fighters attacked a government checkpoint in the morning, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A witness who spoke on condition of anonymity for security concerns said explosions could be heard throughout central Damascus and that smoke could be seen rising from the area.
The Observatory and another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, said clashes also broke out in three nearby districts in the capital. There was no immediate word on civilian casualties but the LCC said three rebels were killed.
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