DAMASCUS: More than 100 civilians have been killed in a new “massacre” in Syria, a watchdog said yesterday, as Russia slammed the United States for blaming deadly blasts at a university campus on the Damascus regime.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the deaths came when the army on Tuesday swept through farmlands north of Homs city, where it said around 1,000 people had sought refuge from fighting in the central Syria metropolis.
“The Syrian regime carried out a new massacre on Tuesday claiming 106 victims, including women and children,” said the Britain-based watchdog, which relies on a network of activists and medics on the ground.
Witnesses said several members of the same family were among those killed, some in fires that raged through their homes and others stabbed or hacked to death. Among the dead were 32 members of the same clan.
Homs, dubbed “the capital of the revolution” by Syria’s opposition, is the most strategic city in the country’s largest province, lying on key trade routes near the borders with Lebanon and Iraq, and with its southwestern areas not far from Damascus.
Pro-regime daily Al-Watan reported army advances against “gunmen” — a term used by the regime for insurgents — in the area, but activists said there were no insurgents there.
“They came in and slaughtered the women and the children. They burned their bodies,” an unidentified woman told an anti-regime activist, according to amateur video distributed by Homs-based opponents of the regime.
The Observatory urged the UN to send a fact-finding team to probe the latest bloodshed. The reported deaths were the latest to emerge from Syria, where twin blasts on Tuesday tore through an Aleppo campus while students were sitting exams. At least 87 people were killed in one of the bloodiest attacks of the 22-month conflict, in a city that has suffered some $2.5bn in damage in six months of bitter conflict, according to Aleppo’s governor. AFP