'Stench of dead bodies' in Syria's Haffe

2012-06-14 22:41
Burnt out vehicles in the town of al-Haffe, in Latakia province on the Mediterranean, after opposition fighters withdrew from the besieged town after eight days of intense shelling. (Sana, AFP)

Burnt out vehicles in the town of al-Haffe, in Latakia province on the Mediterranean, after opposition fighters withdrew from the besieged town after eight days of intense shelling. (Sana, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

UN observers film Syria shelling

2012-06-13 08:24

UN observers in Syria have released a video of the devastation being wrought on the city of Homs and its environs. In this video smoke can be seen rising from buildings hit by shells and on the ground footage. WATCH

Al-Hafee - United Nations observers on Thursday visited the Syrian town of al-Haffe and reported finding it all but deserted with a strong stench of dead bodies and most state buildings burned to the ground.

"Most government institutions, including the post office, were set on fire from inside," the UN Supervisory Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) said in a statement.

"Archives were burnt, stores were looted and set on fire, residential homes appeared rummaged and the doors were open."

It added that "a strong stench of dead bodies was in the air and there appeared to be pockets in the town were fighting is still ongoing".

The observers since 7 June had been trying to reach the mainly Sunni Muslim town in northwest Latakia province to check on reports of a possible massacre there by regime forces.

Rebels seeking the ousting of President Bashar al-Assad withdrew from the town on Thursday, allowing regime troops to enter it and take control.

The eight-member UN team that visited the town on Thursday reported that the ruling Baath party headquarters was shelled and appeared to be the site of heavy fighting.

"Remnant of heavy weapons and a range of calibre arms were found in the town," UNSMIS added. "Cars, both civilian and security, were also set on fire and damaged."

It said the number of casualties was still unclear.

We shall return

An AFP correspondent travelling with the UN convoy said municipal buildings, including the local water department and courthouse, as well as several shops had been torched.

There was no sign of life on the streets, except for a few workshops open, already trying to remove traces of the destruction and repair the damage.

Most anti-regime graffiti had been covered in black paint, though part of a Koranic verse was still visible on one building façade.

"If you return, so too shall we," was seemingly written by rebels before they evacuated the town, whose entrance is now guarded by a military checkpoint.

State television said the observers had visited the region and "inspected the vandalism and destruction wrought by the terrorists".

Authorities said on Wednesday that "security and calm" were restored in the area after it was "cleansed of armed terrorist groups" who, they claimed, had assaulted citizens and vandalised public and private property.

The rebels said they had decided to withdraw from the besieged town that had been under intense shelling to spare the lives of civilians.

Activists said regime forces and pro-regime militiamen known as shabiha raided the area after the rebels withdrew.

A UN convoy trying to reach the town on Tuesday came under fire and was forced to turn back by a stone-throwing crowd.

Regime troops began bombarding the area on 5 June, in parallel with fierce clashes between soldiers and rebels on the outskirts of Al-Haffe.

The United Nations and opposition activists had expressed fears of a massacre if pro-government forces entered the town, just 16km from Assad's mainly Alawite home town of Qardaha.

Read more on:    bashar al-assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
17 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.