06/09/2012, 00.00
SYRIA - UNITED NATIONS

UN monitors reach Qubair massacre site but find no sign of who did it

Observers find smouldering houses, the stench of burning flesh, and body parts but few bodies. They need to carry out a closer inspection because the situation "is unclear". Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to arm rebels, al-Qaeda extremists and Salafis. A car bomb explodes in Damascus. Turkey urged to lead a NATO intervention. Kofi Annan warns of a large-scale civil war in the making.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - UN observers have reached Qubair where signs of a massacre are everywhere. However, there are no telltale signs of who might have carried it out, how and what the number of victims is.

The group of 25 UN observers reached the village mid-afternoon yesterday, along with a BBC reporter who described a "remarkably appalling scene" of burned homes containing pools of blood and bits of human flesh.

According to the anti-Assad opposition, Syrian troops and pro-Assad Shabiba militias were responsible for the killing of 78 people, including women and children.

The government has said instead that nine people were killed by "terrorists", the term it uses for all regime opponents.

Few bodies were found in the village. For a local man, military lorries came in after the slaughter and took them away.

"We found burned homes, and at least one burnt with bodies inside," Sausan Ghosheh, spokeswoman for the UN observers, said in her account posted yesterday on the mission's website.

"Residents from neighbouring villages came to speak to us, but none of them were witness to the killings on Wednesday," Ghosheh said. "The circumstances surrounding this incident are yet not clear, and we have not yet been able to verify the numbers."

The Qubair attack follows the massacre of 108 people in Houla on 25 May.

Syria's opposition also blamed this massacre on army soldiers and Shabiba militias. The government blamed "terrorists" trying to sink the peace plan brokered by Kofi Annan, the United Nations-Arab League special envoy.

Other observers like Chandra Muzaffar, president of International Movement for a Just World, doubt that Assad is behind these massacres. For the latter, the Annan plan is the only way for Assad to stay in power.

Many in the international community are pushing for Assad's removal. Saudi Arabia and Qatar and, according to the Washington Post, the United States want Assad out, and are arming the opposition as well as extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and Salafis.

Three car bombs exploded yesterday in Idlib, Rif Dimashq and Qudssaya, near Damascus, killing police, security forces and civilians.

The United States and Great Britain are putting also pressure on China and Russia, Syria's allies, to topple Assad.

Former British Foreign Secretary Lord Owen has urged Turkey to lead a NATO threat to intervene in Syria as a way of ending the "devastating" impotence of the international community.

For Kofi Annan, "Syria can quickly go from a tipping point to a breaking point. The danger of a full-scale civil war is imminent and real, with catastrophic consequences for Syria and the region".

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