United Nations (UN) monitors on Friday finally reached the site of a new massacre on a second attempt after being shot at the previous day, activists said, as Kofi Annan urged united action to stop Syria’s crisis from spiralling.
A senior US diplomat, meanwhile, failed to convince Damascus ally Russia to back calls for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as anti-regime protests erupted after weekly Muslim prayers, including in Damascus.
“The observers first headed to the village of Maarzaf where the victims were buried and then to Al-Kubeir to survey the damage from army shelling,”activist Abdel Karim al-Hamwi said.
In a closed-door briefing to the UN Security Council, Annan called on world powers to warn Assad’s regime of “clear consequences” unless it abides by his widely flouted peace plan, a diplomat told AFP.
“The longer we wait, the darker the future looks for Syria,” the UN-Arab League envoy was quoted as saying.
In his first reference to possible sanctions, Annan called for “united” and “substantial” pressure on Assad, and said there must be “real results soon or the crisis will spiral out of control.”His remarks came after at least 55 people were killed on Wednesday in an assault on Al-Kubeir, a Sunni farming enclave circled by Alawite villages in the central province of Hama, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The UN observers were fired on Thursday when they first tried to investigate the slaughter.
According to preliminary evidence, troops had surrounded Al-Kubeir and militia entered the village and killed civilians with “barbarity,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon was quoted as telling the Security Council.
Damascus denied responsibility and, as it has done repeatedly in the past, blamed foreign-backed “terrorists,” using its term for rebels fighters.
The UN visit went ahead despite the almost daily targeting of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), including with the use of heavy weapons, armour-piercing bullets and surveillance drones, according to Ban.