Syria rebels told to fight back after new massacre

Syria’s opposition has urged rebels to step up their attacks on regime forces amid reports of a grisly new massacre in Hama province.

The AFP news agency, quoting the opposition Syrian National Council, said 100 people, including 20 women and 20 children, had been killed.

Reuters said “activists” had told reporters that at least 78 people, including children, had been killed by pro-government militia and security forces.

Some of those killed in the village of Kubeir were stabbed to death, the activists told Reuters, and at least 12 bodies had been burned.

In a rare call for direct military action, the Syrian National Council said the Free Syrian Army should “escalate battlefield action” to ease pressure on civilians “under siege [by] shelling and assaults in the provinces of Hama, Latakia and Homs”.

The reports from Hama come less than two weeks after the massacre of more than 100 people in the town of Houla shocked the world and piled more pressure on the regime.

The latest killings appear similar to those in Houla, with pro-regime militiamen known as ‘shabbiha’ entering homes after regular troops had shelled the area, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Shabbiha headed into the area after the shelling and killed dozens of citizens, among them women and children,” the Observatory said in a statement.

Both the Syrian National Council and the Observatory urged UN observers to immediately head to the region to investigate the latest atrocity in Syria’s 15-month uprising.

“They should not wait to tomorrow to investigate this new massacre,” the Observatory said.

“They should not give the excuse that their mission is only to observe the ceasefire, because many massacres have been committed during their presence in Syria.”

Clinton urges ‘real change’

Meanwhile, United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton has held talks in Istanbul and called for a full transfer of power in Syria to a transitional government.

“We can’t break faith with the Syrian people who want real change,” a US official said in a briefing to reporters about the meeting.

The official said Ms Clinton set forth “essential elements and principles that we believe should guide that post Assad transition strategy, including Assad’s full transfer of power”.

Other elements include “the establishment of a fully representative and inclusive interim government which leads to free and fair elections, a ceasefire to be observed by all and equality for all Syrians under the law”.

Source: ABC News

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