Less than two weeks after roughly 100 civilians were murdered by troops and groups believed to be linked with the Syrian regime, the Syrian National Council (SNC) claimed another 80 civilians have been killed in “yet another vicious massacre.” The major Syrian opposition group said in a press release on its website that the slayings were carried out on Wednesday by “regime forces” and a militia group linked with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The report said 22 children were killed in the al-Qubair village in the Hama suburbs, a town that has been one of the hotbeds for protests and crackdowns in the year-plus Syrian uprising. The SNC called for the Syrian situation to come before the United Nations Security Council for practical steps, presumably including UN sanctions, targeting the regime over its “vicious crimes.”
The SNC also urged the opposition militant forces, including the Free Syrian Army, to provide “needed protection” for civilians, a call that could lead to more violence against the Syrian authorities and the regime-linked militia group. International actors have expressed concern that the Syrian conflict could escalate into a full-blown civil war.
The report of another mass killing follows the massacre in Houleh on May 25. Following that incident, multiple world powers expressed their outrage and a number of nations kicked out Syrian representatives at national embassies. UN envoy Kofi Annan also met in Syria days later with Assad, who has denied his regime perpetrated the killings.
US Talks Sanctions
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the Syrian situation, including the Houleh bloodshed, although it appeared her comments came prior to the latest massacre reports. In a statement released by her office, she said the Friends of the Syrian People group is “increasing the pressure” on the regime.
“Recent events, including the killings at Houla, have exposed the Assad regime’s determination to continue waging war on the Syrian people. The international community cannot sit idly by, and we won’t,” said Clinton.
She said sanctions are impacting the Syrian authorities as businesses cut ties and officials have funds frozen. She said they have also disrupted “the ability of the regime to receive weapons and other supplies.”
“These sanctions are specifically pointed at members of the regime and its war machine; they do not target the Syrian people and do not apply to supplies of critical goods,” said Clinton. “It is the regime that is causing Syrians to suffer from economic hardship, to deprive them of fuel, cooking oil and other essentials.”
Despite her expressions of progress towards pressuring the Assad authorities, Clinton said that “much work remains.”
“We must continue to close off the regime’s economic lifelines, expand the circle of countries vigorously implementing sanctions, and prevent the Syrian government from evading them. And we welcome other countries’ views about additional measures that would be effective,” the US diplomat said.
“The regime must end the atrocities, comply with all its commitments under the Annan plan, and allow the transition to a democratic Syria to begin.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, June 6, 2012)