Military vehicle seen in Syria, Homs_390.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Syrian troops and militiamen loyal to President Bashar Assad chased,
captured and then shot dead 27 young men in three northern villages, an
opposition activists' group said on Wednesday.
The men, all
civilians, were mostly shot in the head or chest on Tuesday in their
homes or in streets in the villages of Idita, Iblin and Balshon in Idlib
province near the border with Turkey, the Syrian Network for Human
"Military forces chased civilians in these villages,
arrested them and killed them without hesitation. They concentrated on
male youths and whoever did not manage to escape was to be killed," the
organization said in a statement.
"Responsibility for this
massacre lies with the general commander of the military and armed
forces, Bashar Assad," the statement said, adding that only one youth
survived the shootings.
YouTube videos said to have been taken by
local activists in Idlib showed bodies of young men with bullet wounds
lying in streets and in houses.
The raids came as the United States appeared to open the door
to eventually arming the Syrian opposition, saying that if a political
solution to the crisis was impossible it might have to consider other
The comments, made by officials at both the White House
and the US State Department on Tuesday, marked a shift in emphasis by
Washington, which so far has stressed a policy of not arming the
opposition and has said little about alternatives.
"We still believe that a political solution is what's needed in Syria," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
don't want to take actions that would contribute to the further
militarization of Syria, because that could take the country down a
dangerous path. But we don't rule out additional measures."
if the United States was shifting its stance on arming the rebels, US
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington did not
want to see the violence increase and was concentrating on political
efforts to halt the bloodshed.
"That said ... if we can't get
Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may
have to consider additional measures," she said, declining to elaborate.
Also on Wednesday, two Western journalists were killed in the besieged Syrian city of Homs when shells hit the house they were staying in, opposition activists and witnesses said.
They were named as Marie Colvin, an American working for Britain's Sunday Times
newspaper, and French photgrapher Remi Ochlik.
A witness told Reuters by phone that shells hit the house where the journalists were staying and a rocket hit them as they were escaping.
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