* Monitoring group says whole families killed
* Calls for UN investigation
* Activists say raid was reprisal against civilians
By Oliver Holmes
BEIRUT, Jan 17 More than 100 people were shot,
stabbed and possibly burned to death in the Syrian city of Homs
this week, in what a monitoring group said was a massacre by the
army or militia loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The Britain-based monitoring group said women and children
were among the 106 people killed by forces who stormed Basatin
al-Hasawiya, an impoverished district on the edge of town.
Reuters cannot independently confirm reports due to
reporting restrictions in Syria.
"The Observatory has the names of 14 members of one family,
including three children, and information on other families who
were completely killed, including one of 32 people," Rami
Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,
"This needs to be investigated by the United Nations," said
Abdelrahman, a Syrian who has documented human rights violations
in Syria since 2006 and now reports on killings by both sides of
the 22-month-old conflict.
Homs province was the scene in May 2011, of the killing of
108 people, including nine children and 34 women, in the town of
Houla, which U.N. monitors blamed on the army and pro-Assad
Homs saw some of the biggest anti-Assad protests at the
start of the revolt and heavy bombardment levelled whole
neighbourhoods and killed thousands of people as the army
attacked rebels who moved into the city.
The United Nations sent observers to Syria in April 2011 but
after several attacks on their convoys they left in August,
complaining that both sides had chosen the path of war.
Abu Yazen, an opposition activist in Homs, said the rebel
Free Syrian Army occasionally entered the farmlands of Basatin
al-Hasawiya to attack a nearby military academy.
"Assad's forces punish civilians for allowing the rebels to
enter the area," he said
Another activist said it was unclear which group carried out
the attack, but said some of the victims appeared to have been
burnt after they were killed - something the opposition says is
often done by the pro-Assad shabbiha militia.
However, many houses had been torched during the raid, which
could also explain the burnt bodies.
The shabbiha are drawn largely from Assad's minority Alawite
sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. Homs has seen some of the
worst sectarian violence between Alawites and other minorities
and Syria's majority Sunni Muslim population, who are leading
The outside world has not been able to stop the violence
despite reports and videos of several mass killings, mostly
blamed on pro-Assad forces but some also on rebel fighters.