Damascus (AsiaNews) - Opposition forces accuse pro-government forces of having killed 86 people, including many women and children, in Qubair and Maarzaf, in the province of Hama. The Syrian government instead says than what is reported by some media is "totally false". In a statement read on state television, it claimed that the attack was carried out by "terrorists" who want to play with "Syrian blood" in an effort to provoke a foreign military intervention.
It is currently impossible to confirm either version. According to the anti-Assad activists security forces and tanks violently bombarded, the towns of Quabair and Maarzaf, but most of the killings were carried out by paramilitary groups loyal to Assad, called "shabiha".
According to the government, "a group of terrorists," massacred nine people. Testimonies from the ground confirm the presence of dead, but nothing is known of the authors of the attack.
This new massacre comes less than two weeks from another, in Houla, where 108 people died. Again the government and rebels blamed each other for this massacre.
The rebels denunciations - among which there are many foreign fighters - are putting pressure on the UN Security Council, which are set to meet later tonight. Former Secretary-general Kofi Annan, who launched a peace plan, which includes a cease-fire and the transition of power in Syria, wants to ask for a greater commitment of the United Nations in its implementation. But the plan was frequently violated by the government and rebels. Indeed, days ago they said they would not respect the cease-fire ffective since April 12 and appealed to all Sunni Muslim countries to fund their "holy war" against the regime of Bashar al-Assad by any means.
Annan wants to create a contact group for an end to violence, involving representatives of the great powers and regional powers. Russia is also suggesting the inclusion of Iran among these representatives. Iran is the greatest ally of Syria and could have a major influence on Assad. But Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, has already said that Tehran's inclusion is "unthinkable". The presence of Iran is also frowned upon by many Arab and Sunni fundamentalist nations, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among the most active in funding the rebels and the possible fall of Assad.
One witness contacted by AsiaNews said: "What was once a movement inside the country (legitimate claims and protests for greater freedom and democracy), has turned into an international group that is playing a dirtier game and has nothing to do with the good of Syria and the Syrians, and that this could not only bring the country and government to its knees, but also to frustrate the protesters aspirations for real peace, in a logic of violence, intolerance and civil war that will go over everyone's head (and through blood). There are too many interests at stake, too much one-sided information that circulates in the West. Now we see fundamentalist terrorism, with the devastating explosions that have been seen, and which promises a long battle, given the logistical and ideological support it receives from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and beyond. "