Assad's troops slaughtered us like sheep, claim refugees

 

Refugees fleeing though farmland from marauding Syrian troops have claimed forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad are committing war crimes against civilians in Homs, slitting the throats of children and slaughtering their victims "like sheep".

Human rights groups have said that gunmen who seized the Homs district of Baba Amr last week were rounding up anyone over the age of 14, torturing them and killing them.

The Independent, meanwhile, has spoken to activists inside the city who have said that dozens of civilians have been savagely murdered during the past few days by the feared shabiha militias.

Yesterday there were further reports of atrocities, with some of the 2,000 refugees who have fled across the border to neighbouring Lebanon in the past two days telling the BBC that young children who had remained in Baba Amr had their throats cut by advancing troops.

One mother said that soldiers had detained 36 men and boys on Friday before executing them. Her husband saw a soldier pin down their 12-year-old son's head with a boot while another slit his throat. "I could hear their screams," he said. Another woman said: "They took our husbands. They took them at a checkpoint. They will slaughter them like sheep."

In further evidence of the catalogue of horrors being meted out by the Syrian regime, Channel 4 News reported the torture of patients in government hospitals. The report, based on footage smuggled out of Syria, included testimony from one medical worker who described the torture of patients in the wards: "They twist the feet until the leg breaks."

Last night, volunteers from the International Committee of the Red Cross were still waiting for government approval to enter the devastated neighbourhood of Baba Amr. Locals say the Syrian regime's reluctance to grant the Red Cross access is due to the "clean-up" being conducted by government forces. Damascus claims its generals are trying to clear up the wreckage left by terrorists and armed groups.

The regime's crackdown continued yesterday as hundreds of troops were dispatched to Deraa, the southern city which was the cradle of Syria's uprising.

As diplomatic pressure continued to mount on the Syrian regime, China announced it would be dispatching an envoy to Damascus in a bid to halt the bloodshed. Baathist officials also bowed to international insistence that two other envoys previously snubbed by President Assad be granted entry – former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.

Meanwhile the French foreign ministry yesterday dismissed as "completely without foundation" a report in a Lebanese newspaper that 13 "French officers" had been captured inside Syria.

However, Syrian opposition sources said there were more reliable reports that one French special forces officer had been "kidnapped" several days ago by Syrian troops on the Syria-Lebanon border. There have been reports in the French press of French agents or special forces operating in Lebanon close to Syria but these have not been officially confirmed in Paris.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
tech
News
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'