Syrian rebels accused of massacre after seven die in attack on TV station

Building stormed hours after President Assad warns that Syria is now 'in a real state of war'

The Syrian regime accused opponents of staging a massacre yesterday after insurgents attacked a pro-government television station near Damascus and killed seven employees.

The assault came as United Nations investigators warned that the violence in Syria had "reached or even surpassed" the levels seen before the UN-backed ceasefire agreed in April, as they presented a report into the massacre at Houla last month in which more than 100 civilians were killed.

As rebels intensify attacks on the regime and its supporters, the UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, has called a meeting of permanent members of the UN Security Council. It pointedly excludes Saudi Arabia, which supports the insurgents, and Iran, which backs the government.

The al-Ikhbariya TV station, 15 miles south of Damascus, was stormed by gunmen at about 4am, hours after President Bashar al-Assad said his country was in "a real state of war".

A photographer who visited the remains of the station said five buildings used for offices and studios had collapsed. The newsroom was burned out. The walls of a two-storey building had been sprayed with bullets, there was blood on the floor and wooden partitions were still on fire.

Accurate information about fighting in Syria was already difficult to obtain and is likely to become more so if rebels target journalists and news organisations they regard as hostile.

Al-Ikhbariya is privately-owned but is strongly supportive of the government, as is the rest of the Syrian media. However, many Syrians get their news from satellite television channels highly critical of the state.

An employee at the television station told a news agency that several staff were wounded in the assault on its compound in the town of Drousha.

He was driven 200 yards from station by the rebels before they blew it up. He said: "I was terrified when they blindfolded me and took me away." They released him soon afterwards, but kidnapped the station's guards.

The Information Minister, Omran al-Zoebi, called the killings "a massacre against the freedom of the press".

The UN report on last month's massacre at Houla, near the northern city of Homs, does not name those responsible, saying only that forces loyal to the government "may have been responsible" for many of the deaths.

It does not name the Alawite militia – the Shabiha – as being responsible, as has been widely reported, but said they had easiest access to Houla.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions