UN observers say Tremseh attack aimed at deserters

UN observers say Tremseh attack aimed at deserters

United Nations observers Saturday toured the Syrian village of Tremseh, where a reported massacre - blamed on forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad - this week left more than 200 people dead, a UN official and activists said, dpa reported.

Sausan Ghosheh, the spokeswoman for the UN observer mission in Syria, released a statement saying the team had found that the "attack appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists."

"There were pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases."

She said that a "wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms."

Abu Ahmed al-Hamawi, a Syrian activist based in Hama, told dpa by phone that the team met with some residents of the village.

"The team took photos of the bombed houses and collected some shrapnel from the houses they visited to help them determine the type of weapons used by the regime forces against the civilians," al-Hamwai said.

The Tremseh massacre, which reportedly occurred Thursday, has drawn an international outcry against al-Assad's government, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon calling for urgent action to stop bloodshed in Syria.

If confirmed, the Tremseh atrocity would be one of the worst single incidents in the 16-month history of the conflict.

Tremseh, which has a population of 7,000, is a mainly Sunni Muslim village near al-Qubeir, where at least 55 people had been killed earlier this month by al-Assad's forces and paramilitaries, according to the opposition.

Tremseh and al-Qubeir are in the vicinity of other villages mainly controlled by Alwaite - an offshoot of Shiite Islam - to which al-Assad belongs.

The UN observers' visit to Tremseh comes amid another day of violence in Syria, mainly in its central areas.

At least 12 people, including two children, were killed Saturday in a car bomb in the district of al-Karameh in Hama, a key pro-opposition hub, reported activists.

Earlier in the day, a car bomb rocked a Christian area in Hama, killing four people, said the activists.

The blast targeted a military building, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Syrian state news agency said the explosion had been caused by a truck loaded with explosives.

Syrian security forces, meanwhile, fired on mourners in Damascus during a funeral of four Palestinian refugees who were killed on Friday in a mass protest against the Tremseh killings, reported opposition activists.

At least 10 people were injured in the shooting, which took place inside the al-Yarmouk camp, home to some 200,000 Palestinian refugees, added the activists.

A total of 56 people, including victims of the two Hama explosions, were killed across Syria on Saturday, said the opposition.

News from Syria is hard to verify, as authorities are barring most foreign media from the country.

Germany, Britain, France, the United States and Portugal have proposed a UN resolution that would give al-Assad's government 10 days to stop the use of heavy weapons on populated areas, or face tougher sanctions.

The draft resolution proposes extending the mandate of the UN observer mission in Syria by 45 days.

Russia has again rejected any use of sanctions against its main ally in the region, and presented a rival resolution that renews the UN observers' mandate, which ends on July 20, for 90 days.

The observers were dispatched to Syria in April to monitor a UN-brokered ceasefire that never held.

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