The Syrian army and militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are again accused on Thursday of standing behind a massacre of villagers, few hours ahead of a crucial meeting at the UN Security Council. At least 100 people, including 40 children and women, were murdered in the village of Mazraat al-Kabir, near Hama, in the center of the country. This latest development should increase pressure by the international community, but also intensify the risk of civil war.
But for now, the international community seems paralyzed by its divisions between, on one hand the West and the Arab countries, and on the other hand, by the three countries that support the regime of Bashar al Assad - Russia, China and Iran.
According to opposition sources, 40 women and children perished in the massacre that occurred less than two weeks after the Hula carnage, in the province of Homs, where 108 civilians were killed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the village of Mazraat al-Kabir and the neighboring town of Maazarif, about 20 kilometers from Hama, had been bombarded by Syrian forces.
"After the bombings, the Shabiha members (the pro-Assad militia) were directed to this area and massacred tens of civilians, including women and children," added the SOHR. At Hula, almost half of the 108 killed were children. The Syrian Observatory has requested that international observers go immediately to the area of Mazraat al Kabir.
"They should not wait until tomorrow to investigate this new massacre," said the Observatory said in a statement. "They should not pretend that their mission is only to observe the cease-fire, because many massacres were committed during their presence in Syria."
The regime of Bashar al Assad restricting access to its territory to foreign journalists, the information could not be independently verified.
In this context of increasing violence, Kofi Annan, the international envoy to Syria, is expected to present Thursday to the 15 members of the UN Security Council a plan to create a "contact group" bringing together world powers and regional players (Russia, China, United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and Qatar) to try to save his peace plan.
With this contact group, Kofi Annan hopes to unlock the impasse in which the Security Council has plunged since the successive double veto by China and Russia against a resolution condemning the repression by the regime of Bashar al Assad.
The former secretary general of the UN must endeavor to obtain the support of Russia, which is yet to indicate its intention to dissociate from Bashar al Assad.
When traveling to Beijing, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs suggested Wednesday the organization of a broad international meeting on Syria with the aim to support the peace plan of Kofi Annan.