News / Middle East

    Syrian Activists Say Dozens of Bodies Found in River

    Free Syrian Army fighters and residents attempt to identify bodies found along a river, at a school used as a field hospital in Aleppo, Syria, January 29, 2013
    Free Syrian Army fighters and residents attempt to identify bodies found along a river, at a school used as a field hospital in Aleppo, Syria, January 29, 2013
    Syrian opposition activists say the bodies of at least 65 people apparently shot in the head have been found in a river in the northern city of Aleppo.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted videos on the Internet on Tuesday, showing dozens of muddied bodies that it says were dragged out of the Queweik river in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district.

    Most of the dead appear to be young men in civilian clothes, with gunshot wounds to the head and their hands tied.

    The Observatory said it was not clear who carried out the killings. Syrian government and rebel forces both have been accused by rights groups of committing atrocities in the country's civil war.  

    Activists also said Free Syrian Army rebels and Islamist militants captured a government security compound in the northeastern town of Deir el-Zour on Tuesday, freeing several prisoners after days of heavy fighting.

    They said the rebel advance in the oil-rich Syrian region triggered retaliatory air strikes by the government.

    There was no government confirmation of the rebel claim.

    • A girl waves the revolutionary Syrian flag during a protest against President Bashar al-Assad in front of the Syrian embassy to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the 1982 Hama massacre, in Amman, Jordan, February 1, 2013.
    • Dutch student Wijbe Abma, 21, right, has raised more than $17,000 to buy warm blankets for the Syrian refugees, delivering the aid through local activists and rebel groups.
    • Anti-Syrian regime protesters flash the victory sign as they hold a banner during a demonstration, at Kafr Nabil town, in Idlib province, northern Syria, February 1, 2013.
    • Syrian citizens pray over the bodies of those who were found dead next to a river last Tuesday and who were not identified by their relatives, in Aleppo, Syria on January 31, 2013.
    • The bodies of dozens of men, many of them with their hands bound behind their backs, were found on the muddy banks of a small river January 29, 2013 in the northern city of Aleppo.
    • Relatives and Free Syrian Army fighters bury the body of Ammar Al-Achaqer, who activists said was killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Homs, Syria, January 29, 2013. (Shaam News Network)
    • An internally displaced boy looks out of a school at a village outside Damascus, January 28, 2013.
    • This image taken from video shows a Free Syrian Army fighter speaking in front of a government intelligence complex in Deir el-Zour, Syria, January 29, 2013. (Ugarit News)
    • A Free Syrian Army soldier flashes the victory sign as damage caused by warplanes and rocket launchers is seen at background in Hama, Syria, January 28, 2013. Image taken from video.
    • Syrian refugees search for their belongings at a burned tent at the Al Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, January 28, 2013.

    The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday the number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict into neighboring countries has risen to 700,000.

    Speaking in Geneva, UNHCR spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes said the figure includes Syrians already registered as refugees and those awaiting processing in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. She said aid workers are struggling to cope with the exodus and trying to clear the backlog.

    Jordan has seen the biggest influx of refugees, with tens of thousands arriving in the past month.

    International donors made pledges of more humanitarian assistance for Syria on Tuesday, a day before joining a U.N. aid conference in Kuwait.

    U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington will provide $155 million to help Syrians make it through the winter. He said the aid will include warm clothes for children, medicine for the elderly, flour and wheat for families and blankets, boots and stoves for people huddling in damaged buildings.

    The new pledge raises the total U.S. aid commitment to $365 million, making Washington the largest donor of humanitarian supplies to Syria.  

    "The relief we send doesn't say 'Made in America,' but make no mistake - our aid reflects the commitment of the American people," Obama said. "American aid means food and clean water for millions of Syrians. American aid means medicine and treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients in Damascus, Daraa and Homs. It means immunizations for one million Syrian children. American aid means winter supplies for more than half a million people in Aleppo, Homs and Deir el-Zour. And we are working with allies and partners so that this aid reaches those in need."

    EU humanitarian commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said the 27-nation bloc will double its pledges for Syria to about $270 million. She said the aid is "desperately needed" by Syrian people who are "cold, hungry and scared."

    In another pledge, an international group of 77 Islamic charities said it will provide $182 million of aid to Syrians affected by the conflict. The non-governmental International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) made the announcement after meeting in Kuwait on Tuesday.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed Syria's humanitarian crisis with his Arab League counterpart Nabil Elaraby ahead of the donor conference. A U.N. statement said both men called for an "immediate end to the bloodshed and suffering" of the Syrian people and expressed concern about what they called a "dangerous spill-over" of the conflict in neighboring states.

    Deaths in Syria from ongoing conflict


    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    January 30, 2013 12:29 AM
    Goes to show how much the Syrians care about one another to free them from brutal torture jails. Many detained are regular civilians, or those who oppose Bashar. Rather than go right for Bashar they feel the need to help their own Nation before chasing down Bashar.

    by: bill collins from: Tampa , USA
    January 29, 2013 8:11 PM
    all of the arabic countries and the UN as well as the USA
    and Russia are to be blamed for the terrible inactivity and failure
    to bring in boots to stop the madness in syria ! it has been a ruined country a long time ago since the civil war had started.
    Shame on all of us ! we spend money to help people but not
    being able to stop the war and bring assad to trial is way
    beyond my beliefs in this stupid world ! it is a very sad world
    we live in.

    by: Davis Thanjan
    January 29, 2013 7:05 PM
    I am not a Moslem. But I am proud of the International Islamic Charitable Organization for the contribution of $182 million for the Syrians affected by the conflict.

    by: Basam Shaqha from: Syria
    January 29, 2013 3:01 PM
    many of the dead are Iranians not Syrians.

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    January 29, 2013 1:50 PM
    It is good to see that the world is not only taking stock of the horrendous sit, that Syrian civilians face, but it is also gathering resources to actually alleviate the suffering; the aid needs to be provided, like yesterday. The US/Contributors need to ensure that the aid is provided to all the needy, and that groups providing the aid, to the needy, do not discriminate against any ethnic/religeous group. Past conflicts have seen issues of discrimination in distribution of aid, I hope this is well monitored and not allowed to occurr; all sides are needy and suffering this terrible civil war.

    by: Valery from: France
    January 29, 2013 11:53 AM
    I agree with Maxim. Israel feel very protective towards its neighbors (even if its neighbors are despicable villains) and will not view kindly any foreign armies muscle in on a wounded neighbor... i do not want France to connive with turkey and destroy Syria.

    by: Maxim from: France
    January 29, 2013 10:39 AM
    Israel question "West's" military intervention through Lebanon and Turkey into Syria. Now, if Israel view with great skepticism a collusion between French and Turkish military intervention in Syria, maybe the "West" should take notice...

    by: Michael from: USA
    January 29, 2013 8:51 AM
    Syria's infrastructure has been destroyed, when someone outside the country knows this fact, it becomes data we can use. If the infrastructure is in an unknown condition, the lack of data, is like a divided trench that prevents reconstruction in the future. So, at least activists are on the right track by reporting information about the infrastructure

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