The UN observers have felt a "strong odor of burnt flesh" and saw blood on Friday at the scene of the massacre in Al-Koubeir in Syria, where escalating violence has prompted the West to work on new United Nations sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In a statement Friday night, the UN spokesman Martin Nesirky reported that the observers saw traces of armored vehicles and houses badly damaged by rocket fire, grenades and other weapons.
"In some houses, the blood was visible on the walls and floor. There was still fire outside some buildings and in the air there was a smell of burning flesh," said Nesirky, quoting the report by the observers. "The circumstances surrounding the attack remain unclear. The identity and number of people killed are yet to be confirmed. Observers continue to work to check some facts," said Nesirky.
On Wednesday, at least 55 people including women and children were killed in Al-Koubeir, a town in the province of Hama (center) reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The opposition blamed the massacre on the "shabbihas", pro-regime militias. But the authorities in Damascus have denied that such a massacre had taken place, stating that there were only nine victims killed by "terrorists."
Meanwhile, at least 17 people, including nine women and three children, were killed early Saturday by army fire in Deraa (south), according to SOHR. The shooting, which also left dozens injured, some serious, hit a residential area in the city, the cradle of opposition against the regime of Assad. The young victims were between 12 and 13 years, it said.
On Friday, thousands of Syrians marched through the country against Assad, while expressing their frustration towards the international community, which is powerless to stop the violence.
In the afternoon, UN observers "went to the (neighboring) village of Maarzaf where victims were buried, and then to Al Koubeir," said an activist in Hama, Abdel Karim al-Hamoui. "Soldiers ordered the inhabitants not to talk to observers," he added.
Paul Danahar, a BBC journalist accompanying the UN convoy, wrote on Twitter he has seen two homes ravaged by fire, with no signs of life. "There is a lot of blood and pieces of flesh are visible. Even livestock was killed and the carcasses rotting in the sun," he said.