Troops storm Syria town as observers visit Treimsa


Syrian troops and pro-regime militias stormed and torched a southern town on Saturday, reports said, as UN observers visited a central village where a mass killing has provoked harsh global condemnation.
Hundreds of soldiers backed by helicopter gunships attacked Khirbet Ghazaleh in the province of Daraa — the cradle of a 16-month uprising — amid heavy gunfire, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
An activist on the ground who identified himself as Bayan Ahmad gave a similar account, saying pro-regime militias were setting alight houses in the town.
“The army entered without resistance as the rebel Free Syrian Army left town. The shelling has wounded dozens of people but we don’t have medical resources to treat them,” he added.
Elsewhere, a pregnant woman was among 28 people killed across the country, the Observatory said, a day after 118 people died including dozens of civilians gunned down by troops at anti-regime protests.
The violence persisted despite international outcry over the killing on Thursday of more than 150 people in the central village of Treimsa.
The circumstances surrounding the incident have still not been clarified, but UN observers made their way to the village in the central province of Hama on Saturday to investigate.
Spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh told AFP that a group of observers was visiting Treimsa, while an activist calling himself Abu Ghazi said they had met residents and “inspected places that were bombed and where there were traces of blood.”
‘Biggest massacre’: Rebel leader Abu Mohamad, whose fighters are based near Treimsa, had said more than 200 people were slaughtered there.
The Observatory was more cautious, saying “several dozen rebel fighters were among those killed,” adding that only around 40 of the dead had been identified, while 30 were burned and 18 were “summarily executed”.
A spokesman for Syria’s military said the army killed “many terrorists” in Treimsa, but no civilians, in a “special operation… targeting armed terrorist groups and their leadership hide-outs.”
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP it “might be the biggest massacre committed in Syria since the start of the revolution.”
If confirmed, the 150-person toll would exceed that of a massacre at Houla on May 25, when a pro-Assad militia and government forces were accused of killing at least 108 people.
Treimsa, which had a population of 7,000, “is empty now. Everyone is dead or has run away,” an activist calling himself Abu Ghazi said.