Most of the people killed in the Tremsa massacre in central Syria were rebel fighters, an activist said on Friday, adding the bloodbath followed a Free Syrian Army attack on an army convoy.
“At this stage, though we do not yet have the final count, the number of civilians killed by shelling is not more than seven,” Jaafar, an activist at the anti-regime Sham News Network, told AFP. “The rest were members of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army.”
“An army convoy was on its way to the region of Hama when it was attacked by the FSA,” he said. “The army staged a counter-attack with the support of (pro-regime) reinforcements from (nearby) Alawite villages. The FSA resisted for an hour before it was defeated.”
Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that “dozens of rebel fighters” were among those killed.
“Several dozen rebel fighters were among those killed,” said the Observatory, adding that only around 40 of the more than 150 dead had been identified.
Thirty corpses were burned and 18 were “summarily executed,” said the Britain-based group.
Videos show massacre victims
Syrian activists have posted videos they say show at least 17 of the dozens of people reportedly killed in heavy government shelling of a farming village in central Syria.
If confirmed, the massacre in the village of Tremsa would be the latest in a string of deadly assaults by President Bashar Assad’s regime as it tries to crush dissent since a nationwide uprising erupted over a year ago.
One of the posted videos shows the dead bodies of 15 men lined up on a floor. Some are covered in blood and have wounds to their heads and chests. A second video shows a man’s body lying on a hospital gurney.
Yet another video shows a young man wailing over the body of an elderly grey-haired man wrapped in a blanket and lying in the street.
“Come on, dad. For the sake of God, get up,” the man sobs. A boom is heard in the background.
Much remains unclear about Thursday’s killings in Tremsa, a farming village some 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of the central city of Hama. Another group, the Local Coordination Committees, said Friday the dead numbered more than 200. It gave no information on how it arrived at that number.
One resident, Laith al-Hamwi, said by phone midday Thursday that government troops were shelling Tremsa with tanks from nearby locations and that many people had fled. He said he thought more than 60 people had been killed but that no one could enter the village because of the shelling.
“There is no way we could take the wounded to the hospital because all the roads are blocked,” said al-Hamwi, who had fled the village hours earlier.
Residents could not immediately be reached by telephone on Friday, and activist claims and videos could not be independently verified.
The Syrian government gave a very different story of the Tremsa killing, with the state news agency saying that dozens of members of “armed terrorist groups” had raided the village and were randomly firing on residents.
Security forces clashed with the armed men, killing and capturing many of them, the report said. It said three soldiers and some 50 residents were killed.
The agency provided no photos or videos. Assad’s regime has denied popular calls for political reform since the start of the country's revolt in March, 2011, and refers to those seeking its overthrow as terrorists.
According to activists’ estimates, the conflict is believed to have killed more than 17,000 people, most of them civilians. The government says more than 4,000 members of the security forces have been killed. It does not provide numbers of civilian dead.