News / Middle East

Syrian Government Denies Attack on Village

This image made from amateur video on July 13, 2012 purports to show a funeral for victims killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria.This image made from amateur video on July 13, 2012 purports to show a funeral for victims killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria.
This image made from amateur video on July 13, 2012 purports to show a funeral for victims killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria.
This image made from amateur video on July 13, 2012 purports to show a funeral for victims killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria.
Margaret Besheer
CAIRO — The Syrian government denied Sunday that it used tanks and helicopters to attack the village of Tremseh in Hama province on Thursday. Activists reported mass killings in the village, but a government spokesman said only two civilians and 37 armed individuals were killed in what Damascus said was a defensive operation.  The U.N. observers were at Tremseh on Sunday investigating events.

U.N. military and civilian observers entered Tremseh for a second consecutive day on Sunday to try to verify reports of a military operation on the village. On Saturday, the U.N. supervision mission, known by its acronym UNSMIS, confirmed an attack had taken place using a variety of weapons, including artillery, mortars and small arms.

At a news conference in Damascus Sunday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jihad Makdissi denied the army had used tanks, helicopters and heavy weapons to target the town.

He said yes, there was a massacre.  What happened, he said, was not an attack by the army on innocent civilians but a clash between regular forces and armed groups.

UNSMIS spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said the monitors report only what they can see and verify.

“When we went into Tremseh what we saw was an attack that appeared to target specific groups and houses mainly of army defectors and activists. How it started, who started the whole thing is something that we cannot verify right now,” she said.

On Friday, the head of the U.N. mission, Major General Robert Mood, said one of his teams positioned outside Tremseh confirmed helicopters in action and the presence of Syrian forces in government checkpoints near the village.

The next day after a cease-fire was confirmed, a group of U.N. observers made an initial foray into the village, where they reported seeing pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases. They also saw a burned school and damaged houses with signs of internal burning in five of them.

The U.N. mission is still working to verify numbers of casualties.

The verification mission to Tremseh is the first in nearly a month, since General Mood suspended the work of the 300 unarmed observers on June 16 due to escalating violence.  But monitors do continue to carry out humanitarian work, assessing the impact of violence on civilians and visiting hospitals, schools and camps for displaced persons.

Meanwhile, the deadline for a U.N. Security Council decision on the future of the monitoring mission draws near later this week.

A spokesman for U.N.-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan said he would travel to Moscow on Monday for two days of talks with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Moscow has repeatedly blocked strong action on Syria in the U.N. Security Council and recently put forward a draft resolution that would extend the U.N. monitoring mission for another three months, but ignores a Western call for sanctions should either side obstruct the mission or fail to stop fighting.

Activists say the violence in Syria over the past 16 months has killed some 16,000 people. The United Nations stopped trying to estimate the death toll months ago. With few independent journalists allowed into the country, it has been difficult to verify reports.

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Comment Sorting
by: kafantris from: USA, Ohio
July 15, 2012 3:01 PM
Russia and China have their own interests alright: Preserving the status quo at home.
If they allow regime change in Syria, they also invite regime change on their doorstep. Why would they do that?
Better yet, why are the rest of us expecting them to do so?
Forget about it.
Russia and China will not lift a finger in Syria. And we are not going to wait for them anymore.
Instead, we will put together our own coalition and take care of necessary business -- just like we had done in Libya.
This time around, Russia and China had their chance to be part of the solution. They have sat it out -- less they also rattle their own house of cards.
But their inaction has also committed them to getting out of the way. They can do so and still save face.
Either way, we should move forward.
In Response

by: Plain Mirror from: Abidjan
July 16, 2012 11:05 AM
The weakness of America has been exposed in Syria issue. Any intervention would be a very dangerous step for America to make if neither Rusia nor China backs them. American lies have become the problem here. U.S lied and lead UN and NATO to attack Libya. The same happened in Ivory coast with France and UN killing civilians. These were all results of lies and over-stepping of mandates. Whatever that is happening in Syria is the result of Obama's lies and lack of respect to laws and order. Haven't U.S called Obama to order by the third quater of 2011?U.S cannot fool the world cheaply any longer.

by: bozozozo from: alexandria, va
July 15, 2012 12:08 PM
rope-a-dope, rope-a-dope, rope-a-dope onward
if it works, why change your tactics?
the West (and the Middle East) will continue to watch
as Assad kills and lies, kills and lies
time is on his side, as long as the Russians are

by: john george from: columbus ohio
July 15, 2012 11:54 AM
was a disaster! why, why haven't you stopped this monster from murdering his own dam people? your in so many other countries, that we dam sure don't belong, but you won't help the rebels overthrow a monster? he's murdered thousands, blew up half the country and says i didn't do it and you idiots accept it? of course russia won't allow you to step in, or china because there making billions off the monster in arms! he will never run out of supplies! shame on the entire world for allowing this to happen.
In Response

by: Holly L. from: USA
July 15, 2012 3:05 PM
why should we interfere...??? I say, let Assad kill his own people... there is nothing but hate for the West in Muslime countries... I don't understand why we should help them after they killed thousands of our troops in Iraq in cowardly roadside bombs... Muslimes unlike Jews and Christians have no concept gratitude only depredation

by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
July 15, 2012 11:02 AM
I served my army duty as a gunner in medium artillery artillery -155 mm- and I know a what an artillery explosion looks like very well. And I have seen enough video in U-tube, and in the Evening News newscasts to know with certainty that the explosions I have seen on my TV screen come from weapons that the Syrian rebels do not have. Simply stated, those weapons are too heavy too slow to move around, and the Syrian rebels are engaged in hit-and-run tactics guerrilla warfare with AK-47s, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), and shoulder fired light anti-tank missiles.

Denials aside, the turning of neighborhoods into rubble with massive explosive ordnance is done only by the Syrian army that possesses such heavy weaponry. And this kind of slaughter against Syrian civilians will eventually bring Assad's
downfall! Nikos Retsos, retired professor

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