In a report yesterday, the Syrian government was accused of executing 72 citizens in a village outside of Aleppo. The Syrian National Coalition, the country’s main opposition group, charged President Bashar al-Assad’s “terrorist regime” with executing and burning the bodies of 72 people after a raid on the village of Malkiyeh, near a town in the east of Aleppo province.
According to the Aleppo Press Center, an anti-regime activist organization, only 49 of the bodies have been identified; the rest were burnt beyond recognition. It was reported that the victims included women, children, and elderly citizens. Of the 49 identifiable bodies, 7 were children aged from 8 months to 12 years old.
The press center also reported cases of rape and torture and burned down houses. They said the citizens were “targeted on charges of having collaborated with rebel fighters.” The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on the incident, saying dozens of citizens had been killed “after a government raid aimed at securing access for reinforcements to Aleppo international airport.”
Last week, the Syrian government launched at least four ballistic missiles that devastated the city of Aleppo and an outlying town, killing over 141 citizens, including 71 children. Human Rights Watch visited the impacted areas and found no signs of military targets in the vicinity; the attacks took place in residential neighborhoods and are unlawful in the absence of military targets.
Many of those who had fled violence in the area last August had returned to their homes when the bombing occurred, in addition to citizens displaced from other areas of the Aleppo governorate. Human Rights Watch believes the total number of fatalities to be higher than the current estimate because many people evacuated the area after the attacks and buried victims in surrounding villages.
Though there is ongoing fighting around the Aleppo international airport, none of the residential sites attacked had bases for opposition fighters, and the opposition had not organized attacks from those neighborhoods.
The Syrian government first used ballistic missiles against opposition forces last December. Since then, activists have reported more than 30 such missile attacks. According to the National Coalition, “These repeated massacres carried out by the regime’s death squads show a criminal methodology clearly aimed at sowing terror and hatred between Syrians.”
At a news conference in Geneva today, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said that Syria will fall apart if the government and opposition forces keep fighting rather than seeking a negotiated peace. He urged that there is a “small window of opportunity” for talks, which may soon close. “I continue to urge the Syrian parties to find their way to the negotiating table. The horrors of the last months and years prove beyond doubt: the military solution in Syria is leading to the dissolution of Syria,” Ki-moon said.
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.