News / Middle East

Syrian Troops Attack Sunni Village, 15 Killed

VOA News
Syrian activists say government troops backed by militia fighters have killed at least 15 people during a raid on a Sunni village in the center of the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday two women and a child were among those killed in the attack on Sheik Hadid village.

The group said the fighters used guns and knives to kill the residents, calling the raid a "massacre." It said it is not clear if the rest of the men killed were rebel fighters or civilians.

Syria's government is fighting a Sunni-dominated rebel force. Over 100,000 people have been killed in the two-and-a-half-year conflict.

Diplomatic efforts have recently focused on a U.S.-Russian deal that would require Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give up his stockpile of chemical weapons.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says the Syrian government has begun supplying information about its chemical weapons, in line with the deal.

In a VOA interview Friday, spokesman Michael Luhan said the group has received a partial inventory of the weapons and expects to receive additional information by this weekend.

He said the OPCW would not release details of what was in Syria's declaration.

U.S. and Russian officials agreed, last Saturday, on a framework for ending Syria's chemical weapons program that included a one-week deadline for Damascus to submit a comprehensive list of such weapons.

The plan also calls for Syria to eliminate or remove all chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Syrian non-compliance could lead to a request for punitive action in the U.N. Kerry said Friday that he had discussed prospects for a "firm and strong" U.N. resolution with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Luhan said the next step for his agency was supposed to be a Sunday meeting to discuss plans regarding Syria's chemical weapons. However, he says the meeting has been postponed indefinitely.

A U.N. report released earlier this week showed overwhelming evidence that chemical weapons were used in an attack near Damascus, last month. However, the report does not assess blame.

The U.S. and other Western powers have said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces carried out the attack. The U.S. says the attack killed more than 1,400 people.

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