UN mission 'can't say who to blame' in Hama massacre
'We couldn't get to the site before, as they were
obstructed in earlier attempts' :
RUSSIA: After dozens were reported slaughtered in the Syrian village
of al-Qubair, UN observers have been seeking to establish the truth on
the events. Yet as the government and opposition accuse each other, the
team admits it can't say who was to blame. The United Nations monitors
reached al-Qubair village in central Hama province on Friday and said
there was evidence that a "horrific crime" had taken place there.
Their mission is to investigate who was behind Wednesday's massacre
in which up to 80 men, women and children were reportedly killed.
"We found the village empty of its local inhabitants, bmp [tank]
tracks on the road, a house damaged from shelling, with a wide range of
caliber types and grenades," said spokeswoman for the UN Supervision in
Syria Sausan Ghosheh.
She added that the mission also "found burned homes, and at least one
burnt with bodies inside - there was a heavy stench of burned flesh."
The observers said they couldn't get to the site before as they were
"obstructed in earlier attempts": the group reported that they were held
up at Syrian Army checkpoints, and in some cases turned back. In
addition, they were shot at with small arms while on their way to al-Qubair.
When they managed to reach the place, they couldn't find anyone who had
witnessed the bloody events.
"Residents from neighboring villages came to speak to us, but none of
them were witness to the killings on Wednesday," Ms. Ghosheh said.
The spokeswoman had to admit that the mission can't confirm the
number of those killed, or who was responsible for the massacre.
"The circumstances surrounding this incident are not yet clear and we
have not yet been able to verify the numbers."
Casualty estimates, as well as versions of what happened, vary.
Syrian opposition activists say between 55 and 78 people, including
women and children, were shot, hacked and burned to death after the
village was shelled by government tanks.
They claim pro-government militiamen known as "shabiha" entered the
village after the shelling and committed the killings.
Security Council resolutions against the Assad government were twice
blocked by Russia and China, who say they were one-sided, and should
blame not only the Assad government but opposition as well.