Assad forces kill 25 in village attack


Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed at least 25 men today when they shelled and stormed al-Fan, a Sunni Muslim village in the province of Hama, opposition campaigners said.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights, which documents the government crackdown on the revolt against Dr Assad, said most of the men appear to have been killed by shelling, but an unspecified number were executed when troops stormed the village later.

Video footage from Fan taken by activists showed women and family members crying over bodies wrapped in white sheets and placed in a row on the floor of a mosque.

It was not possible to verify the opposition claim.

Meanwhile a car bomb near a Palestinian refugee camp in a suburb of Damascus has killed at least 15 people, according to Syria’s state news agency.

SANA said the explosion in the suburb of al-Sbeineh late last night also wounded several people and caused heavy damage to buildings in the area.

It blamed the blast on an “armed terrorist group,” the term it uses to describe the rebel Free Syrian Army seeking to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Separately, four people were wounded in an explosion in the city this morning in an attack described by state television as "terrorism".

Damascus residents said the explosion occurred near the army and air force headquarters in Mahdi bin Barakeh neighbourhood in the Abu Ramaneh district. Video footage from activists showed plumes of white smoke rising from the area.

Yesterday, rebels seized an air defence facility and attacked a military airport in eastern Syria, a monitoring group said, hitting back at an air force on which Dr Assad is increasingly relying to crush his opponents.

The attacks in eastern oil-producing Deir al-Zor province follow rebel strikes against military airports in the Aleppo and Idlib areas, close to the border with Turkey.

Syria's leader, battling a 17-month-old uprising in which 20,000 people have been killed, has lost control of rural areas in northern, eastern and southern regions and has resorted to helicopter gunships and fighter jets to subdue his foes.

The aerial bombardment has driven fresh waves of refugees into neighbouring countries, reviving Turkish calls for "safe zones" to be set up on Syrian territory - appeals ignored by a divided UN Security Council and by Western powers reluctant to commit the military forces needed to secure such zones.