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ALEPPO: The bodies of at least 65 young men, all executed with a single gunshot to the head or neck, were found yesterday in a river in Aleppo city, adding to the grim list of massacres committed during Syria’s 22-month conflict.
The gruesome discovery came as international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi was scheduled to brief the United Nations Security Council in New York.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 65 bodies were found in the Quweiq River, which separates the Bustan Al Qasr district from Ansari in the southwest of the city, but that the toll could rise significantly.
A Free Syrian Army officer at the scene, Captain Abu Sada, said at least 68 bodies had been recovered and that many more were still being dragged from the water, in a rebel-held area.
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 the killings 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.
An AFP correspondent saw at least 15 bodies already on a truck, which Abu Sada said would be taken to a hospital for identification.
Meanwhile, people were gathering at the bank seeking lost relatives.
“My brother disappeared weeks ago when he was crossing (through) the regime-held zone, and we don’t know where he is or what has become of him,” said Mohammed Abdel Aziz, as he looked at the mud-covered bodies one by one.
The 129-kilometre river originates in Turkey to the north and flows to the southwest of Aleppo, traversing both regime and rebel-held areas.
“This is not the first time that we have found the bodies of people executed, but so many, never,” an FSA fighter, Abu Anas, said as he examined the body of a boy of about 12 with a gunshot wound to the back of the neck.
In video filmed by activists and published by the Observatory on YouTube, the cameraman walks along the river, less than two metres wide, and films some 50 bodies that have been pulled onto the concrete path.
Most have their hands tied behind their backs and pools of blood trail from their heads. They wear civilian clothing and their faces are white and bodies bloated.