Tuesday 29 January 2013

Scores summarily executed in Aleppo

The bodies of dozens of young men, all apparently summarily executed, have been found in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
At least 65 bodies were found on the banks of Quaik River, which runs seasonally in the western district of Bustan al-Qasr, activists on the ground and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.
Most had their hands tied behind their backs and gunshot wounds to the head.
Activists posted video footage of the gruesome discovery on YouTube.
It showed a large number of bodies strewn in and around the banks of the Quaik, which skirts the western side of Aleppo.
BBC News said the bodies, which were caked in grey mud, showed signs of rigor mortis. There were also signs of blood having poured from many of the heads.
“Rigor mortis, a stiffening of the limbs of a corpse, begins around three hours after death, peaks at around 12 hours and is completely dissipated some two days later.”
A captain in the rebel Free Syrian Army said some of those who had been killed were just teenagers.
He told AFP news agency that many bodies were still in the water and the death toll might rise to 100.
People were gathering at the bank to see if they could find their missing relatives, AFP reported.
The district of Bustan al-Qasr has been hotly contested since fighting broke out in Aleppo last July, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from Beirut.
Since July, the city has been more or less divided equally between government and rebel forces, with neither side apparently able to push the other out, despite constant clashes, Muir adds.
Obama: “Assad regime WILL come to an end”
In the hours of the discovery, the White House released a new video from U.S. President Barack Obama announcing he has approved an additional $155 million in aid to the Syrian people, assuring them, “The Assad regime WILL come to an end.”
His full statement on video:
“For nearly two years, the Assad regime has waged a brutal war against the Syrian people—murdering innocent men, women and children, in their homes, in bread lines, and at universities.
“In the face of this barbarism, the United States has joined with nations around the world in calling for an end to the Assad regime and a transition that leads to a peaceful, inclusive and democratic Syria, where the rights of all Syrians are protected.  We’ve worked to isolate Assad and his regime; impose sanctions that starve the regime of funds; recognize the Syrian Opposition Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people; call for accountability for perpetrators of atrocities; and provide humanitarian relief to Syrians in need.
“The relief we send doesn’t say “Made in America,” but make no mistake—our aid reflects the commitment of the American people.  American aid means food and clean water for millions of Syrians. American aid means medicine and treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients in Damascus, Dar’a and Homs.  It means immunizations for one million Syrian children.  American aid means winter supplies for more than half a million people in Aleppo, Homs and Dayr az Zawr.  And we’re working with allies and partners so that this aid reaches those in need.
“Today, we’re taking another step.  I’ve approved an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid for people in Syria and refugees fleeing the violence.  Here, I want to speak directly to the people of Syria. This new aid will mean more warm clothing for children and medicine for the elderly; flour and wheat for your families and blankets, boots and stoves for those huddled in damaged buildings.  It will mean health care for victims of sexual violence and field hospitals for the wounded.   Even as we work to end the violence against you, this aid will help address some of the immediate needs you face each day.
“This new commitment will bring America’s total humanitarian aid to Syria to $365 million—making us the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.  Today, I also call on the international community to do more to help these Syrians in need, and to contribute to the latest UN humanitarian appeal.
“We’re under no illusions.  The days ahead will continue to be very difficult.  But what’s clear is that the regime continues to weaken and lose control of territory.  The opposition continues to grow stronger.  More Syrians are standing up for their dignity.  The Assad regime will come to an end.  The Syrian people will have their chance to forge their own future.  And they will continue to find a partner in the United States of America.”
Read the President's message in Arabic (pdf). You can also watch the video with Arabic subtitles.