New York: A team of UN monitors began investigating a massacre in central Syria on Friday, after new evidence of horrific violence surfaced.
The visit to the village of Qubair, where at least 78 people were reported killed by pro-government militias earlier this week, came a day after the monitors had been blocked by Syrian security forces from reaching the site.
According to the Washington Post, the UN personnel, accompanied by a handful of reporters, encountered a virtual ghost town inhabited by swarms of flies and reeking of charred flesh.
Video footage released by the United Nations showed a series of disturbing scenes, including one of blood-spattered walls and another of homes bearing the pockmarks that have become the signature of the Syrian government’s shelling campaigns.
Kieran Dwyer, a UN spokesman said that the monitors were unable to talk to any witnesses of the attack but that they found evidence of fresh armored-vehicle tracks and homes damaged by rocket fire, grenades and a range of other weapons fire.
“The circumstances surrounding this attack are still unclear,” Dwyer said.
Surviving residents of the tiny village, of a cluster of about 20 homes, said security forces visited them the night before and threatened them with death if they cooperated with the monitors. However, one resident said he covered his face and led the monitors on a tour of the devastation.
“We took them to the graves where we buried the bodies, we showed them the burned houses and the bloodstains in the other houses,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, fearing his safety.
The evidence, of what would be the ‘second large-scale massacre’ of Syrian civilians in three weeks has put additional pressure on the United States and its allies to scramble for a new strategy to contain the deepening sectarian violence.