Sunday 26 August 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: 320 people killed during the past 5 days in Dareyya: Reef Dimashq province -Dareyya: 9 bodies were found at dawn by the Omar ibn al-Khattab mosque in the city of Dareyya. There is still heavy military deploymnets on the ground in the city. Approximately 320 people have been killed during the past five days of military operations on the city, which also witnessed bombardment, intense clashes and summary executions after the regime forces stormed in. The SOHR has documented the names of nearly 200 of the casualties, they include women, children, young men, men and armed rebels.
[local time] 20:54 Sunday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 151, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
18:13 Sunday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 90, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
18:07 Syrian helicopters shelled Homs on Sunday, Al-Arabiya quoted the Syrian National Council as saying.
17:32 President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that Syria would defeat what he described as a foreign plot being waged against the country, according to the official SANA news agency.
16:46 Sunday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 75, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
15:26 Britain expressed grave concern on Sunday at reports that several hundred bodies have been found in a town near Damascus following a fierce assault by the Syrian army.
15:23 A veteran Japanese war reporter killed while covering the anti-regime movement in Syria suffered nine bullet wounds with the fatal injury sustained in the neck, police said Sunday after an autopsy.
14:21 Syria’s regime will only look at negotiating with the opposition after “purging” rebels from the country, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Sunday, according to talks with a visiting Iranian official reported by Iran’s IRNA news agency.
14:13 Syria’s death toll increased to 44 people killed by security forces, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
14:02 Activist footage shows dozens of charred and bloodied bodies lined up in broad daylight in a graveyard in the Damascus satellite town of Daraya after what the opposition called a “massacre.”
13:55 Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara made his first public appearance in over a month on Sunday, an AFP journalist said, following rumors that he had tried to defect.
12:02 Syrian forces are shelling the town of Daraa, Al-Jazeera reported.
11:31 Syrian security forces killed 30 people on Sunday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
10:18 Hundreds of bodies have been found in a town outside Damascus after a ferocious five-day assault by the Syrian army, a watchdog said on Sunday, as activists accused government forces of a “massacre.”
10:09 Syrian Air Force Intelligence Directorate chief Jamil Hassan was assassinated, Al-Arabiya reported.
7:47 Terrorized by shelling and air strikes, tens of thousands of Syrians have packed up and crossed the border to Turkey, but some have also been forced to take refuge at the actual crossing.
Many of those killed in the town of Darayya were victims of execution-style killings, the activists said.
According to unconfirmed reports, 200 bodies were discovered in houses and basement shelters.
Without commenting on the activists’ claim, Syrian state TV said Darayya was being “cleansed of terrorist remnants”.
The UK said that if the reports were confirmed, the killings would “be an atrocity on a new scale”.
Meanwhile, Syrian Vice-President Farouq al-Shara has greeted an Iranian delegation in Damascus, quashing weeks of speculation that he had defected to the opposition.
President Bashar al-Assad, who also met the Iranian delegation, said Syria would continue its current policy “whatever the cost” and accused Western nations of a regional conspiracy.
The forces of President Assad launched an assault on Darayya on Saturday, after days of heavy bombardment.
The BBC’s Barbara Plett in Beirut says the attack was part of a wider campaign to reclaim the southern outskirts of Damascus, where rebels have been regrouping since being driven out a month ago.
Activists say many of the dead were victims of execution-style killings
Activists on the ground later posted unverified video footage on the internet, which shows rows of bodies side by side in the Abu Auleiman al-Darani mosque.
The activists say that many of the victims had gunshot wounds to the head and chest and were killed during house-to-house raids by government troops.
“Assad’s army has committed a massacre in Darayya,” an opposition member told Reuters.
The activist added that most of the victims had been killed at close range, and some died from sniper fire.
The UK Foreign Office said it had opposition reports that “300 people, including women and children, were killed and that some were shot at close range”.
Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said that, if confirmed, the killings would require “unequivocal condemnation from the entire international community”.
Mr Burt added: “It would make [Saturday] the bloodiest day since the unrest in Syria began in March 2011, with over 400 killed across the country.”
The opposition Local Coordination Committees group put the death toll for Saturday at 440 across Syria.
Another opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says 320 people were killed in Darayya over five days, not on Saturday alone.
The claims by the activists have not been independently verified because of restrictions placed on foreign media across Syria.
The official Syrian state news agency said: “Our heroic armed forces cleansed Darayya from remnants of armed terrorist groups who committed crimes against the sons of the town and scared them and sabotaged and destroyed public and private property.”
Meanwhile Vice-President Shara was seen entering his office for a meeting with an Iranian delegation, following weeks of rumours that he had defected.
State media said a “fake” email had been sent out saying Mr Shara had been sacked and that this was “completely wrong”.
After welcoming the Iranian team, President Assad accused some Western and regional countries of trying to “deviate Syria from its stance”.
State news agency Sana quoted him as saying: “Because Syria is the cornerstone, foreign powers are targeting it so their conspiracy succeeds across the entire region.”
Local activists say the type of mass killing reportedly carried out in Darayya, with dozens of bodies being discovered following government raids, has increased in recent months.Heavy fighting is continuing in Aleppo in the north
Human Rights Watch said it was not a new pattern, but was now happening in more areas and in greater numbers.
An earlier report from United Nations observers found that both sides had carried out massacres, but the Syrian army was responsible for a far greater number of deaths.
Fighting continued in other parts of Syria on Sunday, including in the second city of Aleppo, where fighter jets dropped bombs on rebel-held positions in what was described as the fiercest fighting there in the past week.
In a separate development, the head of the UN mission to Syria left the country after the mission had been wound up.
Senegalese Lt Gen Babacar Gaye joined a UN convoy to Lebanon on Saturday.
Last week, the UN decided against extending the mission, which was originally part of a six-point peace plan for Syria.
However, the ceasefire mandated by the plan never took hold and rising violence forced the UN monitors to be confined to their hotels since June.
ALEPPO, Syria – Syrian opposition activists accused President Bashar al-Assad’s army of massacring hundreds of people in a town close to the capital that government forces recaptured from rebels. | Video
About 320 bodies, including women and children, were found in houses and basements in the town of Daraya, southwest of Damascus, according to activists who said on Sunday most had been killed “execution-style” by troops.
Activists uploaded several videos to the Internet showing rows of bloodied bodies wrapped in sheets. Most of the dead appeared to be young men of fighting age, but at least one video showed several children who appeared to have been shot in the head. The body of one toddler was soaked in blood.
Due to restrictions on non-state media in Syria, it was impossible to verify the accounts independently.
Clashes are raging across Syria as the 17-month-old rebellion grows increasingly bloody, particularly in the northern city of Aleppo, where the army and rebels appear stuck in a war of attrition.
Fighting in Aleppo on Sunday was the heaviest in the past week, according to Reuters journalists on the ground.
Fighter jets dropped bombs and fired missiles on rebel-held districts in the south of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, as residents fled in panic. Reuters journalists there heard heavy explosions as clouds of black smoke rose a mile into the air.
Rebels say they control at least half the city of 2.5 million, but their hold is fragile as long as Assad’s forces can unleash their air power against fighters who are comparatively lightly armed.
The uprising, which began as peaceful protests, has become a brutal civil war. United Nations investigators have accused both sides of war crimes but laid more blame on government troops and pro-government militia than on the rebels.
The killings in Daraya, a working class Sunni Muslim town that sustained three days of bombardment before being overrun by the army on Friday, raised the daily death toll to 440 people on Saturday, one of the highest since the uprising began, an activist network called the Local Coordination Committees said.
The official state news agency said: “Our heroic armed forces cleansed Daraya from remnants of armed terrorist groups who committed crimes against the sons of the town.”
The death toll for the following day, Sunday, was more than 90, including civilians and fighters, according to another activist network, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It said at least eight people were killed and dozens wounded on Sunday night when security forces shelled the southern town of Basra al-Sham in Deraa province, with the death toll likely to rise as many of the wounds were severe.
In Damascus, government helicopters hovered near the main Abbaside Square on Sunday and fired rockets and machineguns at eastern residential neighborhoods where rebels continued guerrilla attacks against loyalists, residents said.
Haitham, an activist in Damascus, said troops were also firing machineguns from roadblocks that encircle the suburbs.
“Ninety percent of the time they fire randomly at bystanders and homes. Rarely they hit rebels,” he said.
Assad, who met an Iranian parliamentary delegation in the capital on Sunday, said the crisis was the result of Western and regional states trying to crush Syria’s role in the “resistance” against Western and Israeli domination in the region.
“What is happening right now is not just a plot directed against Syria but the region as a whole, of which Syria is a foundational stone,” he was cited as saying by state news agency SANA.
The United Nations estimates that more than 18,000 people have been killed in the conflict that pits a mainly Sunni Muslim opposition against a ruling system dominated by the Assad family – members of the Alawite faith, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.
Diplomatic efforts to stop the violence in Syria are stalled by a stalemate between Western countries, Gulf Arab states and Turkey – who all support the opposition – and Iran, Russia andChina - who support Assad.
With veto-wielding Russia leading resistance to action against Assad, the U.N. Security Council remains deadlocked.
Egypt is seeking to arrange a four-way meeting with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the main regional players in the conflict. Iran, a Shi’ite power, is Assad’s main backer, while Saudi Arabia is believed to be supplying weapons to the rebels.
Iran accuses its foes in the West and the Arab world of fuelling the conflict by arming the opposition. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian welcomed Egypt’s initiative.
“Iran has its own views about the political process in Syria and will put forth these views upon the formation of this committee,” he said. “We see any foreign intervention, terrorist actions and armed movements against the wishes of the people of Syria.”
The Iranian parliamentary delegation that met with Assad also visited Vice-President Farouq al-Sharaa. It was Sharaa’s first public appearance in weeks, quashing activist rumors that he had defected to the opposition.
(Additional reporting by Marwan Makdesi in Damascus, Yeganeh Torbati in Dubai and Tamim Elyan in Cairo; Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Peter Graff and Andrew Heavens)
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