Syrian 'bloodbath' on eve of Arab League's mission

Turkey warned the violence was in stark contrast to the spirit of the deal that Syria signed up to

Jerusalem

A team from the Arab League arrived in Syria yesterday amid an international outcry over a "bloodbath" that saw more than 200 people killed by President Bashar al-Assad's regime in just two days.

Activists have accused government forces of a major escalation in violence ahead of arrival of foreign observers. The advance delegation is tasked with arranging for the arrival of 20 foreign monitors at the weekend and eventually increasing the numbers to 500.

"They are trying to buy time, one hour after another, hoping to gain the upper hand on the ground," said an activist from the village of Kfar Owaid, the scene of one of the most brutal acts in the uprising so far with more than 100 people slaughtered in the village on Tuesday. Eyewitnesses said troops surrounded residents and activists in a valley and unleashed a barrage of rockets, tank shells, bombs and gunfire in an assault that one witness described as an "organised massacre".

At least another 19 people were killed yesterday as government troops in the city of Homs, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Up to 70 deserting soldiers were reportedly gunned down on Monday as they tried to flee their positions. Since the protests erupted in March, more than 5,000 people have been killed, according to the UN.

Burhan Ghalioun, leader of the Syrian National Council yesterday called on the UN to "urgently intervene". Turkey, once a close ally of Damascus, warned the violence was in stark contrast to the spirit of the Arab League deal Syria signed up to and is raising doubts about the regime's "true intentions".

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said yesterday: "We strongly condemn the Syrian leadership's policies of oppression against its own people, which are turning the country into a bloodbath." The US toughened its rhetoric after the attack on Kfar Owaid, accusing Syria of trying to "mow down" its own people. In the Syrian city of Aleppo, activists tweeted yesterday videos and photographs of thousands of government troops storming the campus firing tear gas on the fourth day of a student sit-down protest.

Elsewhere, independent news channels posted videos of Syrian soldiers who they said had defected to the anti-government side, suggesting Assad is fast losing his grip on his security forces who are transferring their weapons and expertise to the opposition.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones