13 Mar 2012

Syrian women and children massacred, say activists

8:20 pm on 13 March 2012

Opposition activists in Syria say at least 45 women and children in the city of Homs have been massacred by government forces.

The BBC is reporting that one activist in Homs, Hadi Abdallah, told the news agency AFP the bodies of 26 children and 21 women were found, some with their throats slit and others bearing stab wounds.

Both the opposition Syrian Revolution General Commission (SRGC) and the Local Co-ordination Committees, a network in Syria, put the toll at 45.

The SRGC says some of the victims were burned alive after heating fuel was poured over them, and others had their necks and limbs broken.

In a video posted on YouTube, at least 11 bodies can be seen, including at least four young children covered in blood. Some boys appear to have been shot in the forehead.

CNN reports men were tortured and women were raped. Reports and videos are difficult to verify, however, because of tight restrictions on independent media operating in Syria.

The Syrian government has acknowledged the deaths, but blames the killings on what it calls armed terrorist gangs.

Clinton calls for one voice on Syria

Meanwhile, United States Secretary of Sate Hillary Clinton has urged the international community to speak with one voice on Syria.

Russia and China have blocked Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

Mrs Clinton told a council meeting: "We believe that now is the time for all nations - even those who have previously blocked our efforts - to stand behind the humanitarian and political approach spelled out by the Arab League."

In a clear reference to China and Russia, she appealed to the international community to "say with one voice - without hesitation or caveat - that the killing of innocent Syrians must stop and a political transition must begin".

The opposition Syrian National Council is calling for military intervention by Arab and Western governments, including strikes against the armed forces and the establishment of a no-fly zone to protect civilians from government forces.

A spokesperson told a news conference in Instanbul the council had decided to arm the Free Syrian Army and some foreign governments were helping to send weapons.