United Nations Enters Syrian Massacre Site, Kofi Annan Sees Civil War
The U.N. team was shown burned houses and graves of the victims in the village, said CNN.
“There are no bodies here. They’ve all been buried, either in this village or in the villages around,” said CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer. “A man I spoke to who had helped bury the bodies said that the security forces showed up after the massacre and threatened the people that all the bodies had to be buried by the time anybody from the outside world came in.”
She said 11 armored vehicles of three teams from Damascus, Hama and Homs, totaling 20 observers and 10 additional U.N. staff, arrived to view the aftermath of the killings.
Half of the murdered victims were women and children who were “shot, garroted and in some cases burned alive.” According to Palmer, the village consisted of 160 people and half of them were able to escape by running away. Palmer pointed out that it is difficult to confirm the exact death toll because U.N. monitors were unable to reach Qubeir on Thursday, the day after the massacre. They had been blocked by Syrian military personnel and local mobs chanting pro-Assad slogans.
Paul Danahar from the BBC was allowed to travel with the U.N. monitors to the massacre site and tweeted that "a house had been gutted by fire but the stench of burnt flesh still hung heavy in the air."
“Thursday’s standoff at a government checkpoint seemed to symbolize the international paralysis over how to stem the bloodshed. It would be the fourth massacre in two weeks and suggested that the Syrian conflict was spiraling, seemingly daily, toward a sectarian civil war, pitting a government dominated by the Alawite sect against members of a Sunni Muslim majority feeling vulnerable to slaughter with no consequence. The Qubeir victims were all thought to be Sunnis.”
Despite reports of the massacre, Syrian officials insist that it was actually a terrorist attack leaving nine people dead.
United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan said Syria is heading on the road to civil war and “acknowledge[d] that his six-point peace plan was not working.”
"The crisis is escalating. The violence is getting worse. The abuses are continuing. The country is becoming more polarized and more radicalized. And Syria's immediate neighbors are increasingly worried about the threat of spillover," said Annan.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that “the regime-sponsored violence that we witnessed again in Hama yesterday is simply unconscionable. Assad has doubled down on his brutality and duplicity, and Syria will not, cannot be peaceful, stable or certainly democratic until Assad goes."
According to Business Week, an estimated 13,000 have been killed in 15 months of violence.
China, regarded as an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also urged a cease-fire on Friday.
“I think the Syrian government and opposition should both truly shoulder their responsibility and cease-fire and halt violence. Both sides have this responsibility because they both undertook this commitment,” said Liu Weimin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.
See more of Neon Tommy’s ongoing coverage of Syria here.