Syrian Activists Say Women, Children Massacred in Homs

Posted March 12th, 2012 at 4:15 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian activists say the bodies of at least 45 women and children have been discovered in the city of Homs.

The activists say some of the bodies were badly mutilated and that some of the women were raped. They blame pro-government forces for the massacre.

Syrian officials confirm the deaths, but blame those they call “armed terrorists.”

There is no independent confirmation of the killings.

Reports of the alleged atrocities come as U.N. Security Council foreign ministers prepare to meet in New York after an envoy's peace mission to Syria ended in failure.

Britain called the meeting to talk about the Middle East a year after the Arab Spring uprisings. But diplomats expect the violence in Syria to dominate the talks. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be among the top officials at the event.

Russia and China have vetoed U.N. resolutions condemning the Syrian government's deadly crackdown on its opponents. They say the resolutions call for interfering in Syria's internal affairs. The vetoes frustrate Washington, which wants aid workers to be able to enter Syria and help civilians.

U.N. officials estimate that 7,500 people have died in the year-long violence.

U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan left Syria Sunday without a deal to stop the bloodshed.

The former U.N. secretary-general said ending the violence will be tough, but added his two days of talks with President Bashar al-Assad left him “optimistic.” Annan said he urged the Syrian government to immediately stop the killing and “embrace change and reform.”

Mr. Assad has blamed the violence on those he calls foreign-backed terrorists, and says a political solution with such groups is not possible.

Syria's main exiled opposition group also rejects talks with the government. The Syrian National Council said negotiations can never take place between a “victim and torturer.” It demands Mr. Assad step down before a dialogue can begin.

Syria's military continued pounding rebel strongholds in the north Sunday as well as Daraa in the south. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says fighting killed at least 25 civilians and five soldiers.

Also Sunday, Syria's state news agency said gunmen killed local boxing champion Gheyath Tayfour in the northern city of Aleppo. Opposition fighters associated with the rebel Free Syrian Army have claimed responsibility for some of the assassinations that have become more frequent in the city, including those of prominent businessmen they say support Mr. Assad.