At least 65 people found shot dead in northern Syria

Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 00:00

At least 65 people, apparently shot in the head, were found dead with their hands bound in a district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo yesterday, a pro-opposition monitoring group said.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll could rise as high as 80 in what it called a “new massacre”. It was not clear who carried out the killings. Photographs posted online by activists showed the muddied bodies of about a dozen men lying by a small river in what they said was the Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood of Aleppo.

Close-up shots showed some of the corpses had what appeared to be gunshot wounds to the head.

Government forces and rebels in Syria have both been accused by human rights groups of carrying out summary executions in the 22-month-old conflict, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

Stalemate

Rebels pushed into Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, over the summer, but have been stuck in a stalemate with government forces. The city is divided roughly in half between the two sides.

Meanwhile, more than 700,000 Syrian refugees have fled to other countries in the region and aid workers are struggling to keep up with the exodus, according to the United Nations. The number of refugees passed the 500,000 mark on December 11th, meaning more than 200,000 fled the country in the past seven weeks.

“We have seen an unrelenting flow of refugees across all borders. We are running double shifts to register people,” Sybella Wilkes, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told Reuters in Geneva.

A total of about 712,000 refugees had registered in other countries in the region or were awaiting processing there as of yesterday, according to UNHCR figures. Jordan has 171,033 registered refugees, as well as 51,729 who await processing, many of whom fled fighting around the southern Syrian town of Deraa this month. Lebanon has 158,973, and 69,963 awaiting processing. Turkey has 163,161 refugees in its 15 camps while Iraq hosts 77,415, the UNHCR said. There are 14,375 in Egypt and 5,417 registered across the rest of North Africa.

Donations appeal

The UN warned on Monday that it would not be able to help millions of Syrians affected by the fighting without more money. It appealed for donations at an aid conference this week in Kuwait to meet its $1.5 billion target. It has received just 3 percent of that so far.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore has approved an additional €4.7 million in Irish Aid for civilians in Syria. These include “an unrelenting flow” of people seeking to escape the escalating violence inside the country.

Minister of State Joe Costello made the announcement at a major humanitarian pledging conference for Syria which is being chaired by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and hosted by the government of Kuwait. – (Reuters)