Around 90 killed in fresh massacre in Syria: Report
Damascus, June 7 (IANS) Opposition activists and Syrian government forces clashed in al-Qubayr village in the country's northern Hama province, in which at least 86 people were killed. The government, however, said only nine people were killed by a "terrorist group".
The toll figure was declared by Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and the Local Coordination Committees, RIA Novosti reported Thursday citing Al Jazeera.
Both the opposition and the government have accused the other of being responsible for the deaths.
The regime of President Bashar al-Assad denied any involvement in the killings, and said "terrorists" were behind the massacre.
"What a few media have reported on what happened in al-Qubayr, in the Hama region, is completely false," the government said on official television, according to Al Arabiya.
"A terrorist group committed a heinous crime in the Hama region which claimed nine victims. The reports by the media are contributing to spilling the blood of Syrians," the statement said.
The latest incident comes just days after a similar massacre in Houla district in which over 100 people died. Most of the victims in that attack were killed in execution-style shootings, according to the UN.
Syrian forces had been attacking al-Qubayr and the nearby village of Maazarif with artillery, Al Arabiya said.
The US, at a Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul Wednesday, called on members of the international community to introduce separate sanctions against the al-Assad regime to step up pressure on the country's leadership.
In a statement posted on the US State Department website, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "We have taken important steps, but much work remains. We must continue to close off the regime's economic lifelines, expand the circle of countries vigorously implementing sanctions, and prevent the Syrian government from evading them."
Mousab al-Hamadee, an activist in Hama province, told Al Jazeera that the attack bore similarities to last month's massacre in Houla, and said the government was seeking to create an "atmosphere of terror and intimidation".
He said women and children were among the dead.
The Syrian army had prepared the way by shelling the area before pro-government armed groups descended on the village.
"Most of victims were burnt in their houses, many of them were slaughtered by knives in a very ugly way," he said.
He criticised the role of the UN monitoring mission in Syria, saying: "Unfortunately they do nothing to protect us, they just come the next day after the massacres to film the corpses and see how we bury our victims... They are just watching us die."
Manhal Abu-Bakar, another Hama-based activist, told Al Jazeera that Syrian tanks began shelling al-Qubayr Wednesday afternoon. Pro-government militias from nearby villages then drove into the village, and executed many people.
"There were 35 people from one family. Those persons have all been killed and most of them are women and children," he said.
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