Women, Children Found Dead in Syrian Flashpoint City

Posted March 12th, 2012 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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The Syrian government and activists say dozens of civilians have been killed in Homs in recent days, although both sides dispute responsibility for the deaths.

Activists say the bodies of at least 45 women and children have been discovered in the central city that has been a flashpoint for an anti-government uprising and retaliatory attacks and shelling by Syrian forces.

Activists say some of the bodies were badly mutilated and that some of the women were raped. They blame pro-government forces.

Syrian officials confirm the deaths, but the state news agency SANA blamed “terrorist armed groups” for kidnapping, killing and mutilating civilians in order to show their bodies to media outlets.

Reports of the alleged atrocities came as U.N. Security Council foreign ministers met in New York Monday, a day after former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan left Syria without a peace deal.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday called on council members to back Arab League proposals to end the violence and provide humanitarian aid.

“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,” she said.

Russia and China have vetoed U.N. Security Council 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.

Britain called the Monday meeting to talk about the Middle East a year after the Arab Spring uprisings. But the violence in Syria dominated the session.

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

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