More than 100 killed in Homs by Assad forces, says human rights group

Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 00:00

More than 100 people were shot, stabbed or possibly burned to death by government forces in the Syrian city of Homs, a monitoring group said yesterday, and fierce fighting raged across the country.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said women and children were among the 106 people killed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad forces who stormed Basatin al-Hasawiya, a poor district on the edge of Homs, on Tuesday.

The massacre in the central city came the same day twin explosions killed more than 80 people at Aleppo’s university in the north, according to the group.

Reuters cannot independently confirm reports due to reporting restrictions in Syria.

Syrian warplanes and troops pursued a countrywide offensive yesterday, activists and state media said, bombing rebel-held areas and clashing with insurgents who have pushed into cities.

Government forces clashed yesterday with insurgents in the cities of Deraa, Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and east of Deir al-Zor, the observatory said. Only the coastal Assad strongholds of Latakia and Tartous were spared violence.

Bodies of children

Opposition activists said 15 people including seven children were killed when an air strike hit a family home in Husseiniyeh, on the capital’s outskirts. They sent footage of people dragging the limp bodies of children out of the rubble.

In Hama province, the government said it had secured some areas and displaced families were returning to the area of Zor Abi Zaid after armed forces “cleansed the area completely of terrorists”, a term authorities use for the rebels.

Activists and Turkish news agencies reported renewed clashes on the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain, where rebel forces have been fighting armed Kurdish groups for control.

The local Turkish Dogan news agency said one man on the Turkish side of the border was wounded by a stray bullet overnight and that schools in the area had been closed due to the clashes on the Syrian side.

In the power vacuum, some Kurdish groups are trying to assert control over parts of Syria through fights with rebels and government forces. The observatory said clashes broke out between Kurdish militants and the Syrian army in Rameilan, a town in the northeast.

Activists said 17 members of the Khazam family had been killed during Tuesday’s raid on Basatin al-Hasawiya.

“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,” said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the observatory.

“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.

The UN says 60,000 have been killed in the 22-month-old conflict. – (Reuters)