Quantcast
Connect with us

‘Grisly reports’ out of Syria tell of torture, summary executions in Homs

Published

on

BEIRUT/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had received “grisly reports” that Syrian government forces were arbitrarily executing, imprisoning and torturing people in the battle-scarred city of Homs after rebel fighters had fled.

Ban’s comments came as a wounded British photographer, who escaped Homs earlier this week, said he had witnessed Syrian troops carrying out a massacre in the city’s Baba Amro district, which had become a symbol of a year-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

ADVERTISEMENT

Opposition activists told Reuters Syrian troops, who had bombarded the district for weeks, had started hunting down and killing insurgents who had stayed to cover a rebel retreat on Thursday.

The rebel withdrawal was seen as a major setback for the armed revolt, that began with largely peaceful protests inspired by the “Arab Spring,” but escalated after a bloody government crackdown.

“A major assault on Homs took place yesterday,” Ban told the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Friday. “Civilian losses have clearly been heavy. We continue to received grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture.”

In some of his toughest criticism of Damascus to date, Ban added that “this atrocious assault is all the more appalling for having been waged by the government itself, systematically attacking its own people.”

Syria’s U.N. Ambassador, Bashar Ja’afari, said Ban’s remarks included “extremely virulent rhetoric which confines itself to slandering a government based on reports, opinions or hearsay.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“The secretary-general is not duly informed,” he said, reiterating that the Syrian opposition consisted of “armed terrorist groups.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said an aid convoy had reached Baba Amro, but was not allowed to enter.

“It is unacceptable that people who have been in need of emergency assistance for weeks have still not received any help,” ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are staying in Homs tonight in the hope of entering Baba Amro in the very near future.”

One activist in Homs told Reuters: “The Syrian army was holding the convoy up because they want to clean up after what they have done in Baba Amro.” As with other activist reports from Homs, this could not be independently confirmed.

ADVERTISEMENT

“All men who remained in the neighborhood aged between 14 and 50 were arrested. We fear they will be massacred. Where is the world?” said one activist.

“The massacres are continuing. They are torturing them and killing (detainees) one by one. They are executing them in batches,” another activist, who left Baba Amro on Friday, told Reuters via Skype.

Many fighters out of the 2,000 who were based in Baba Amro were killed and wounded in the onslaught, they said, adding that a final toll was impossible to give because of the heavy shelling and siege. Hundreds were reported to have fled.

ADVERTISEMENT

“IT’S A MASSACRE”

British photographer Paul Conroy, who escaped Homs earlier this week after suffering leg injuries in the shelling, said on Friday there had been a daily, indiscriminate barrage of the city.

“I’ve worked in many war zones – I’ve never seen or been in shelling like this,” the Sunday Times photographer told Sky News from a hospital bed in central London.

“I’m an ex-artillery gunner so I can kind of follow the patterns – they are systematically moving through neighborhoods with munitions that are used for battlefields.

“It’s not a war, it’s a massacre, an indiscriminate massacre of men, woman and children.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Conroy said thousands of people were still in Homs, without power or water, and with hardly any food.

“In years to come we’re going to sit and we’re going to go ‘How did we let this happen under our nose’. There are rooms full of people waiting to die.”

The Syrian government said on Friday it would like to express its “sadness and sorrow” at the death of Conroy’s Sunday Times colleague, U.S. journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed in the Homs shelling.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Friday it had opened a preliminary investigation for murder and attempted murder into the bombing that also killed French photographer Remi Ochlik and seriously wounded journalist Edith Bouvier.

ADVERTISEMENT

Defiant protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers in towns and cities across Syria – including Homs, Hama, Deir al-Zor, Deraa, Douma and several districts in Damascus, television footage showed.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 13 people were killed when troops fired a mortar bomb at a protest in the town of Rastan. Independent verification of such reports is hard as foreign media are mostly barred from Syria.

In Geneva, the United Nations human rights body had earlier said Assad had obligations under international law.

“We are alarmed at reports starting to come out of the Baba Amro district of Homs after it was taken over by government forces yesterday,” spokesman Rupert Colville said.

Conditions in the heavily bombarded district are hellish. TV footage showed heavy snow and freezing weather, with residents lacking electricity or fuel for heating.

ADVERTISEMENT

Barely a building has escaped damage from artillery shelling and many are pock-marked with bullet holes.

The United Nations says Syrian security forces have killed more than 7,500 civilians since the revolt began last March. Syria’s government said in December that “armed terrorists” had killed more than 2,000 soldiers and police during the unrest.

(Additional reporting by Mariam Karouny, Oliver Holmes and Laila Bassam in Beirut, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Steve Gutterman in Moscow and Nour Merza in Dubai, Michelle Nichols in New York; Writing by Samia Nakhoul, Editing by Giles Elgood and Andrew Heavens)

Source: Reuters US Online Report Top News

Photo from YouTube video via Wikimedia Commons

ADVERTISEMENT

Mochila insert follows


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Protesters give Donald Trump a one-finger salute as Marine One flies over DC protests

Published

on

President Donald Trump returned to Washington, DC on Saturday as large crowds of protesters fill the city's streets.

Trump had flown to Florida to see the launch of the SpaceX Starship and returned as the sun was going down.

BuzzFeed News reporter Ellie Hall captured a picture of Marine One approaching the White House -- and being welcomed back to town with raised middle fingers.

Trump, in Marine One, just did a flyover of the protest area outside the White House.

Protesters flipped off the president’s helicopter.#dcprotest #MAGANIGHT #GeorgeFloydProtests pic.twitter.com/EMgCaOof1J

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump announces he has unilaterally decided to let Putin back into the G7 Summit: report

Published

on

President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he intends to let Russia attend the next Group of Seven summit.

Since 2014, Russia's membership in the organization has been suspending in response to Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea. That changed the name from the G8 Summit to the G7 Summit.

The announcement came from pool reporter Gabby Orr of Politico, who said Trump will also invite South Korea, Australia and India to the next summit, which he is postponing until September.

More via pooler: “‘I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries,’ he said. Alyssa Farah said this is bringing together our traditional allies to talk about how to deal with the future of China.”

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Seattle mayor imposes emergency curfew — set to begin only 14 minutes after her announcement

Published

on

The mayor of Seattle announced on Twitter that she would be signing an executive order imposing a curfew.

"I will soon be signing an emergency order and the city of Seattle will be imposing a 5 pm curfew soon," Durkin tweeted at 4:46 p.m. -- only 14 minutes before the order was set to go into effect.

"Crowds need to disburse from downtown immediately," she ordered.

"While many individuals gathered peaceful, some individuals have started fires and are destroying buildings. There are multiple fires downtown and it is an extremely dangerous situation. @Seattelfire (sic) does not have access to buildings," she continued.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image