Skip to main content

'Massacre' in Homs leaves 45 women, children dead, Syrian activists say

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:40 PM EDT, Sun March 11, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: At least 45 women and children are stabbed, then burned, activists say
  • NEW: The killings occur hours after U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan departs the country
  • Annan met with Syrian president, proposed cease-fire, release detainees, aid delivery
  • Opposition groups report random shelling, machine gunfire

Are you there? Send us your images or video.

(CNN) -- At least 45 women and children were killed in the Syrian city of Homs late Sunday, opposition activists said, hours after the U.N. special envoy to Syria met with the country's president in an effort to reach a diplomatic solution to end the violence.

The killings occurred in the Homs neighborhood of Karm al Zaytoun, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist network.

Hadi Abdallah, a spokesman for the Syrian Revolution General Council, told CNN there were 47 victims -- all stabbed to death and burned after "Syrian forces and thugs" stormed their homes.

Life and death under Syria's military onslaught

The LCC described the killings as a "massacre orchestrated by the regime" of President Bashar al-Assad.

CNN cannot independently confirm reports of casualties or attacks in Syria because the government has severely restricted the access of international journalists.

The claims of fresh violence occurred the same day Kofi Annan, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, departed the country after two days of talks with al-Assad.

Annan talks Syria peace amid violence
Russia defends Syria stance to Arab League
What does Washington know about Syria?
No end in sight to Homs violence

On Saturday, Annan proposed a cease-fire, the release of detainees and allowing unfettered access to agencies such as the Red Cross to deliver much needed aid, a U.N. statement said.

"It's going to be tough, it's going to be difficult, but we have to have hope," Annan said Sunday after meeting with al-Assad for a second day.

Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general, also proposed a start to an inclusive political dialogue that would "address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the people."

It was unclear whether al-Assad offered any assurances that he would agree to the proposals laid out by Annan. When asked whether he received promises of a cease-fire or the acceptance of humanitarian assistance, Annan responded, "(those are) some issues we're discussing with the president."

The reported deaths of women and children in Karm al Zaytoun brought the total number of deaths across the country Sunday to 78, according to activist groups.

CNN's Hala Gorani: Witness to killing fields

A livestream from a neighboring town purported to show some of the bodies from the massacre.

Syrian state TV said the bodies shown were killed by "armed terrorist groups," a consistent phrase the government has used to explain the carnage. But the vast majority of reports from inside Syria indicate the regime is killing civilians en masse in an attempt to wipe out dissidents seeking al-Assad's ouster.

Earlier Sunday, opposition groups reported violent clashes between Syrian government forces and defectors and said government forces were randomly shelling civilian areas.

In the Idlib province village of Aljanoudeyah, the LCC said shelling by government forces destroyed three buildings. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 19 people were killed in Idlib.

The London-based Observatory also said Syrian forces also shelled a bridge over the Assi River west of Rastan. The bridge had been used by residents trying to flee the city, according to the group.

The attack destroyed the bridge, the group said.

In addition to his meeting with al-Assad, Annan also met with members of the opposition as well as business and religious leaders.

"The transformational winds blowing today cannot be long-resisted," Annan said. "I have urged the president to heed the old African proverb: 'You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail.' The realistic response is to embrace change and reform."

At least 33 people died Sunday in places such as Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, Homs, Daraa, Hama and the countryside around the capital of Damascus, opposition activists said.

Meanwhile, in a phone call with a Binish town elder, a major general in al-Assad's military demanded the people of Binish hand over weapons used by defected soldiers and the rebel Free Syrian Army within 24 hours or the town will be bombed and stormed early Monday morning, according to the Binish Coordination Committee, part of the LCC.

SANA reported that what it called terrorist groups killed a boxing champion in Aleppo and two special forces troops in the province of Hama. The news agency also said an official of the Baath Arab Socialist Party was kidnapped in the al-Ghouta area of Homs.

The meetings Saturday and Sunday between al-Assad and Annan were the first time in Syria's yearlong crisis that al-Assad met with such a high-level diplomat. But the Syrian president quashed the possibility of negotiating with the opposition anytime soon.

Syrian state-run media said al-Assad told Annan that he was ready to find a solution, but that such an effort would first require a look at reality on the ground and not rely on what "is promoted by some regional and international countries to distort the facts and give a picture contrary to what Syria is undergoing."

He also reiterated that "political dialogue or action cannot take place or succeed if there are terrorist armed gangs on the ground that are working on spreading chaos and target the stability of the homeland," the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said.

Both Annan and opposition members agreed that plans for a resolution cannot be implemented as long as the bloodshed continues.

"It is too early to apply a plan to resolve the crisis," said Abdel Aziz al-Khair, a member of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change. "The situation on the ground ... is catastrophic.

The United Nations says more than 7,500 have died in the past year, and at least one activist group says more than 9,000 people have been killed.

CNN's Saad Abedine, Kareem Khadder, Salma Abdelaziz, Hamdi Alkhshali, Ian Lee and Kamal Ghattas contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 5:19 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What caught our experts' ears was as much about what he didn't address as much as what he did.
updated 6:19 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
The three-year war in Syria has claimed 162,402 lives, an opposition group said Monday, as the raging conflict shows no signs of abating.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Official: The U.S. believes a jihadi featured in a suicide bombing video in Syria is Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha who grew up in Florida.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
For the first time, Britain has convicted someone of a terrorism offense related to the Syrian civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT