The BBC reports,
Syrian pro-government forces have killed at least 86 people in Hama province, many of them women and children, activists say (emphasis added).
The opposition said government-backed militia stabbed and shot their victims in the villages of Qubair and Maarzaf.
Syrian state TV said troops found some bodies after attacking “terrorists”.
Neither account could be confirmed, but activists said 140 had been killed nationwide on Wednesday – one of the bloodiest days of the uprising (emphasis added).
It comes less than two weeks after 108 people were killed in a massacre in Houla.
Activist groups reported that Qubair and Maarzaf, about 20km (12 miles) north-west of the city of Hama, had come under heavy bombardment from security forces backed by tanks.
But they said much of the killing in Qubair was done by accompanying groups of pro-government militiamen known as shabiha, who had come from nearby pro-government villages.
The activists said they shot at close range and stabbed many people, and that some of the bodies were later burnt in houses that were set on fire.
“They executed [nearly] every person in the village. Very few numbers could flee. The majority were slaughtered with knives and in a horrible and ugly way,” one activist in Hama told the BBC’s World Tonight.
–BBC News: Middle East, June 7, 2012.
Mariam Karouny and Erika Solomon (Beirut), “Syria accused of new massacre as U.N. council meets,” Reuters, June 7, 2012 (3:23 a.m. EDT).
Maria Antonova (AFP/Beijing), “Russia, China-led bloc opposes Syria intervention,” The Daily Star, June 7, 2012 (last updated: 10:23 AM).
The United States has shaped the battlefield in Syria, by ruling out the use of force.
Meanwhile, a Syrian Milosovic slaughters his people, setting a torch to an incendiary ethnic conflict like that in the Balkans in the 90s, or the Lebanese civil war.
Kofi Annan will propose some further consultative process, building on his 6-point plan. If adopted, it will further strenghten the cards in the hands of Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and of Vladimir Putin of Russia and Hu Jintao of China, who will back the Syrians no matter what crimes they commit.
The United States, the West and the Arab countries just don’t get it. Or maybe it is just that Obama doesn’t get it, and no one else will lead.
Nothing will stop al-Assad short of the use of force.
What is to be done?
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon should just resign and call for the re-election of Kofi Annan as Secretary General if his mediation process, which to date has been a total fiasco, is allowed to continue and even given a new mandate. Annan has become the center of attention and diplomatic activity, instead of Ban Ki-Moon.
Nothing would focus the attention of al-Assad and his Alawite regime like the launch of 10 well-targeted cruise missiles against his homes and key command and control targets. This is what is needed.
But Russia has already raised the threat of nuclear war in the region, perhaps referring to Iran instead of Syria, but who knows? Obama has pretended he didn’t hear the threat.
How is it possible that Putin (through Medvedev) has raised the threat of nuclear war, and there has been no response from Washington?
Without military intervention in Syria to halt the killing now, and quickly, rapid descent into full-scale civil war and ethnic conflict in Syria, spilling into Lebanon, seems inevitable. Al-Assad, by mobilizing the Shabiha to commit crimes of ethnic cleansing (or, hypothetically, simply failing to bring them to a halt), has thrown down the gauntlet before the international community.
See AFP, “Syria at risk of ‘genocide’; Bashar al-Assad’s policies in Syria risk creating a genocide in Syria unless there is “rapid intervention,” Giulio Terzi, the Italian foreign minister has warned,” The Telegraph, June 6, 2012.
Force will be required later, on a much greater scale, if al-Assad is not stopped now.
Europe, the United States and the international community cannot just walk away from the Syrian conflict, as if it were Somalia, however much they might wish they could. They have tried to do so for 15 months, with results for all to see.
They now face a disaster that is growing larger by the day. It is time to act. Military force is required to bring al-Assad’s atrocities to a halt. No more time should be lost.
What America, Europe, and the international community stand for, in the 21st century, is directly at stake.
The Trenchant Observer
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