News / Middle East

    Syrian Opposition Condemns 'Large-Scale Massacre'

    In this image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrian rebels clash with government forces in Damascus, Syria, May 3, 2013.
    In this image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrian rebels clash with government forces in Damascus, Syria, May 3, 2013.
    VOA News
    Syria's main opposition is accusing President Bashar al-Assad's government of committing a "large-scale massacre" in a northwest village, where activists say military forces killed dozens of civilians.

    Citing witness accounts, the Syrian National Coalition said Friday that troops executed at least 150 people in the village of Bayda on Thursday, including women and children. There was no independent confirmation.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of sources in Syria, says it has documented at least 50 deaths from the incident. But it said the actual toll may be much higher, since many have disappeared.

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    The rights group said those executed were "shot to death, stabbed, or set on fire."

    The group added that government forces have begun raiding homes in the Sunni areas of the region of Banias, also located in the northwest, and it fears another massacre could take place there.  

    Bayda is mainly inhabited by Sunni Muslims, who dominate the country's rebel movement. But the village is located just south of Banias, which is home to many members of the Alawite minority sect to which Mr. Assad belongs.

    In its statement Friday, the Syrian National Council called on the international community to intervene to stop Mr. Assad's "grievous crimes," which it said constitute war crimes and genocide.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday the Obama administration is reconsidering arming the rebels, but said no final decisions had been reached. The U.S. has been providing non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels.

    The White House has said evidence suggests possible government use of chemical weapons during the fighting - something Mr. Obama has said would represent a "red line."

    Rights groups have accused both government and rebel forces of committing war crimes during the conflict, which has killed at least 70,000 people.

    On Friday, Amnesty International said both sides have killed, arrested, and tortured dozens of journalists since the 2011 uprising began. The report, which was released on International Press Freedom Day, said both all sides are committing war crimes, but said the scale of abuse by government forces are much greater.
    • Rebel fighters of the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) talk in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, May 9, 2013.
    • A view shows damaged buildings and debris in the Khaldiyeh district of Homs, May 9, 2013.
    • Syrian children play near a water distribution point in the Almyassar central district of Aleppo, May 8, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds his weapon in Raqqa province, east Syria, May 6, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter stands behind a pile of sandbags in Raqqa province, east Syria, May 6, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to head toward the front line in the al-Ziyabiya area, Damascus, May 5, 2013.
    • An armored vehicle is seen parked as Free Syrian Army fighters gather on a street in the refugee camp of Yarmouk, near Damascus, May 5, 2013.
    • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News shows smoke and fire filling the the skyline after an Israeli airstrike, Damascus, May 5, 2013.
    • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows damaged buildings wrecked by an Israeli airstrike in Damascus, May 5, 2013.
    • This image provided by ENN shows a protester with a sign reading "If America does not know who used the chemical weapons, so it could be flying saucers from another planet," Sarmada, Idlib, Syria, May 3, 2013.
    • A man reacts after his grandson was injured during what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, Syria, May 2, 2013. 
    • Residents inspect a damaged building that was shelled by forces activists say were loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, Syria, May 2, 2013.
    • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visiting the Umayyad Electrical Station, Damascus, Syria, May 1, 2013.

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