Yet another massacre, UN observers shot at

In the wake of reports of yet another massacre in Syria’s central province of Hama on Wednesday, when activists say government forces and militia killed as many as 86 people in the village of Mazraat al-Qubair, including women and children, the UN says the government of Bashal al-Assad is blocking international observers from the site.

General Robert Mood, head of the UN’s observers in Syria, was quoted in the Washington Post, saying monitors were being stopped from reaching the area. The Syrian government decried the opposition claims to the mass killing, calling it “absolutely baseless” and reaffirming it’s helping the observers.

From the Washington Post:

General Robert Mood, the leader of the observer mission, said monitors were trying to enter in Qubair, near the central Syrian town of Hama, to see what had happened, but they were being prevented from doing so.

“They are being stopped at Syrian Army checkpoints and in some cases turned back,” Mood said in a statement. “Some of our patrols our being stopped by civilians in the area.”

The Associated Press quoted an eye witness to the massacre in Mazraat al-Qubair saying government troops shelled the village for five hours before militiamen entered the area “killing and hacking everyone.”

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has been quoted in the Guardian saying UN monitors had been shot at while trying to reach the town of Mazraat al-Qubair. He called the killings an “unspeakable barbarity.” Moon’s comments came as he and the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, began two key meetings in the UN to brief its members in what’s expected to be a last-ditch effort to save a peace plan to deal with the 15-month conflict between the government of Syria and the opposition that has killed more than 10,000 people.