Syria: observers in Qbeir, protest and clashes today

Dozens still dying. Rebel clashes also in Damascus

08 June, 20:41

(ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, JUNE 8 - There is still a ''strong'' smell of burnt flesh, there are human remains and swarms of flies buzzing around: according to a journalist on the scene, these are the first impressions to hit the UN observers on their arrival in at the Syrian village of Mazrat al Qubeir, after two days of waiting. According to activist reports, they have entered the scene of a massacre of 78 civilians, including many children, at the hands of the regime. For its part, the Damascus government is pointing the finger at the usual ''terrorist groups''. But further reports of violence are coming thick and fast, with civilians in flight from a crisis that now appears to be on an unstoppable spiral towards a possible ''civil war,'' to quote UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaking yesterday - or at least towards ''large-scale devastation,'' in the words of Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, speaking today. According to activist sources, at least 31 people have been killed today in repressions of Friday protest demonstrations or in clashes with the army in Damascus itself. While official news agency Sana reports the explosion of two car bombs: one in the capital and one in Aleppo, with death tolls of three people and five people dead respectively.

These ''disturbing'' scenes were described by the BBC's reporter on the spot, Paul Danahar, who, entered Al Qubeir in the province of Hama along with UN observers today. The village adds yet another name to the list of horrors, coming soon after that of Hula, where dove 108 civilians were massacred on May 25.

In the meantime, fighting between the regular Syrian army and rebels of the Free Syrian Army have reached the capital, opposition sources report. The local coordination committees speak of clashes in the areas of Kfar Suse and Qadam, where three rebel soldiers are reported to have fallen.

''The crisis is gaining pace; it is worsening and taking on a worrying dimension'' Italy's Minister Terzi, said, announcing that he had sent a message to Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister with responsibility for the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov. In it Mr Terzi stated that Moscow can contribute to ensuring that ''the Syrian regime finally resolves to cooperate'' in finding a solution to the crisis. Meanwhile UN envoy Kofi Annan, ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said that in order for his peace plan to be applied, it will be necessary to ''step up pressure'' on the warring parties. (ANSAmed).

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