U.N. observers remain barred by Syrian security forces from accessing the site of a newly reported massacre just outside the central Syrian city of Hama, according to Washington Post correspondent Liz Sly in Beirut.
Following reports of the killings in Qubair, a small village northwest of Hama, activists posted several videos on YouTube and social media Web sites that show the bodies of dozens of Syrians, including young children and infants, who the activists say were killed by pro-government militiamen. Disturbing images of slain Syrian children wrapped tightly in white blankets were broadcast on CNN on Thursday, shots that the news network said it could not independently verify.
“You see the bodies of a number of very young children, and opposition activists are saying that those Assad loyalists were not showing any mercy on anyone… not even the youngest of the victims,” said Arwa Damon, CNN’s correspondent in Beirut, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the incident, Hama activist Mousab Alhamadee told the Guardian that 78 civilians were slaughtered in a “horrible massacre” in Qubair.
“Most of the killings were by shooting bullets, others were slaughtered by knives, and others were burnt alive,” Alhamadee said in the Guardian interview. “It was a very horrible massacre, and it’s really an indication of the dilemma of the regime nowadays.”
In an amateur video published by Reuters, charred bodies lie covered by debris in a demolished building, as Syrians cry out in horror at the scene.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Free Press, a pro-Assad news station, reported that “armed terrorists groups” — not the Syrian government — were responsible for the massacre of nearly 80 civilians in the Hama countryside.
“I swear to God there was a 3-month-old child that was burned alive,” the man told al-Arabiya. “They all were burnt by fire.”
For The Post’s latest coverage on the massacre near Hama, click here.
See images of the ongoing turmoil in Syria.
Benjamin Gottlieb is a Washington Post intern.