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Observers smell 'burnt flesh' in Syrian village: UN

UN observers who went to the Syria massacre village of Al-Kubeir saw blood on the walls and were hit by a "stench of burnt flesh" but could not confirm how many died, a spokesman said Friday.

world Updated: Jun 09, 2012 09:55 IST
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UN observers who went to the Syria massacre village of Al-Kubeir saw blood on the walls and were hit by a "stench of burnt flesh" but could not confirm how many died, a spokesman said Friday.

While the government has denied responsibility, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the observers saw armored vehicle tracks around the village and homes that were damaged by rockets, grenades and various weapons.

"Inside some of the houses, blood was visible across the walls and floors. Fire was still burning outside houses and there was a strong stench of burnt flesh," the spokesman said in a grim account of the visit.

At least 55 people were killed on Wednesday in an assault on Al-Kubeir in Hama province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

UN officials have made it clear they believe government forces and allies were behind the attack on a mainly Sunni Muslim village surrounded by an Allawite population loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

More than 20 unarmed UN observers were allowed into Al-Kubeir on Friday after they were shot at and prevented from entering the village on Thursday, Nesirky said in a statement

The village was empty when they went in there and so monitors were unable to talk to any witnesses of the attack, which has led to calls for tougher action against President Bashar al-Assad.

Nesirky said people from a nearby village came "and spoke of what they had heard and the relatives they had lost.

"Armored vehicle tracks were visible in the vicinity. Some homes were damaged by rockets from armored vehicles, grenades and a range of caliber weapons," Nesirky said.

"The circumstances surrounding this attack are still unclear. The names, details and number of those killed are still not confirmed. The observers are still working to ascertain the facts," he said.

Nesirky said that Syrian army checkpoints had "stopped" and "in some cases turned back" the observers who made "multiple attempts" to get into Al-Kubeir on Thursday.

"Some of the patrols were being stopped by civilians in the area," he added. The monitors were also told by residents that their "safety was at risk" if they entered the village.

According to preliminary evidence, government troops surrounded Al-Kubeir and militia entered the village and killed civilians with "barbarity," UN chief Ban Ki-moon told the UN Security Council on Thursday, according to diplomats at a closed briefing.

Al-Kubeir was the second major massacre in Syria in two weeks. At least 108 people -- including 49 were killed when forces attacked the town of Houla on May 25. The government has denied any role in both slaughters.

The United Nations says that well over 10,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Assad in the past 15 months.

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