Syria says rebels killed 123 people in north, majority civilians

BEIRUT Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:28pm EDT

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian state media accused insurgents on Saturday of killing 123 people, the majority of them civilians, during a rebel offensive this week to take the northern town of Khan al-Assad.

A two-year revolt-turned-civil war has left more than 100,000 people dead and both forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels are accused by rights groups of war crimes.

State news agency SANA said that "armed terrorist groups" committed a "massacre ... mutilating the bodies of the martyrs and throwing them in a big hole on the outskirts of the town, in addition to incinerating a number of (their) bodies."

The accusations come a day after a rebel group, calling itself the Supporters of the Islamic Caliphate, posted a video on YouTube of around 30 bodies of young men piled up against a wall who they said were pro-Assad militiamen.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad monitoring group, cited activists on Friday in Khan al-Assal who said that more than 150 soldiers were killed on Monday and Tuesday in and around the town, including 51 soldiers and officers who were executed.

Having won Western support in the early stages of the revolt, the opposition has since succumbed to infighting between moderate and hardline Islamist groups. Meanwhile, Assad has been able to rely on Iran, Russia and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group to support his crackdown.

Islamist militants fought with ethnically Kurdish units on Saturday near the border with Turkey in part of an ongoing territorial dispute.

An official in Turkey said there were reports that the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front had approached the border and that shelling from Syria had fallen on Turkey. It was not clear who controlled the nearby border gate of Ras al-Ain, he said.

The war - pitting Sunni majority rebels against Assad's own Alawite sect and Shi'ite Hezbollah - has descended into sectarian hatred.

The army continues to hit major cities with artillery and airstrikes. The Observatory reported on Saturday that 29 civilians, including 19 children and four women died when a surface-to-surface missile hit a building in the northern city of Aleppo, once Syria's commercial hub.

Insurgents have focused on taking isolated army outposts, mostly in rural areas while forces loyal to Assad have made gains in recent months around the capital Damascus and the central city of Homs.

(Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul; Editing by David Evans)

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Comments (16)
guywise wrote:
They are barbaric! If these so called rebels become future armies, then imagine what they are going to do to the 100s of thousands of minorities? These are the people once lived in peace are the victims of orchestrated civil war by the powerful groups, one who is trying to keep his power, and others who are trying to grab it. The leaders behind these armies have no intrest in making peoples lives better, bringing peace and stability in the nation.

Once they get rid of the dictator, then we’ll see power struggle within the rebel groups fighting against eachother to control the nation, which would be an aftermath of ongoing conflict, where we would see thousands of civilians getting killed day by day. I blame both sides.

I think UN should send an army not for peace keeping but to get rid of the filth(i.e, dictator and rebel groups) So, people can live in peace.

Jul 27, 2013 1:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
The greatest irony of all is that if one were to gather together, in one single place all the Sunni majority rebels and then Assad’s own Alawite sect and then Shi’ite Hezbollah, likely no one would be able to tell them apart, not even the various groups themselves, except for the identifying clothes they wore.

How tragic that all these age old sectarian hatreds can result in so much carnage, human misery and untold mountains of dead- and for what?

And all due to the fact that these different groups harbor differing religious beliefs and ideas.

And in the end, if one group or the other, ever does somehow manage to rise to control the majority of Syria, then that will signal the start of Chapter Two. The start of ethnic cleansing on a scale hardly to be imagined. Indeed it will be beyond imagining.

Can anyone claim this area of the world has evolved or advanced even one inch since the Dark Ages.

Except now there is the added element of outside powers stirring the countless cauldrons of death and destruction in Syria, due to their own vested interests and long term geo-political aims and objectives.

Watch for all the blockbuster action Hollywood films based on all this madness, soon to be coming to a theatre near you.

Of course all the advertising and trailers will begin with the words:

“Based on a True Story”. Right !

Jul 27, 2013 2:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Dennis6900 wrote:
Even if each of the comments above were totally true, the irony is that the US knows best, right. Isn’t that how the powers that be choose sides, always assisting one side, or the other, to destroy each other. Good old America, always at the forefront of renovating the world at the expense of its citizens.

Jul 27, 2013 3:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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