Syria denies existence of mass grave

2011-05-17 19:15

Damascus - Syrian authorities on Tuesday denied the existence of a mass grave in the southern town of Daraa, which the army had raided to put down anti-regime protests, while acknowledging that the bodies of five people had been found in the town.

"This information is totally false," an interior ministry official told the state news agency, referring to reports about the mass grave.

"These reports are part of a campaign of incitement and lies against Syria," the official added.

The SANA agency, quoting a local official in Daraa, said five bodies had been discovered in the town on Sunday and that the local attorney general had launched a probe.

It did not specify how the bodies were found or how the victims died.

A rights activist said on Monday that a mass grave had been discovered in the old town of Daraa, at the heart of protests roiling the country for two months and virtually shut off from the outside world.

Family went missing

Ammar Qurabi, of the National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria, said the grim find was made after authorities allowed people to venture outside their homes during daylight.

Rami Abdel Rahman, of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the mass grave concerned the five corpses found on Sunday.

He identified the victims as Abdel Razzaq Abu Zeid and his four sons, aged between 20 and 40.

"Abu Zeid and his sons went missing from Daraa on April 25, as they were fleeing the army assault on the town for fear of arrest," Rahman said by telephone.

"Family members were informed last Sunday by local residents of a foul smell emanating from a hilltop some 150m from his home," he added. "They discovered the bodies and alerted authorities."

Rahman called on authorities to set up a commission including well-respected members of the town to investigate the deaths.

Over 850 dead

Syria has been roiled by unprecedented protests for two months that have threatened the authoritarian regime of President Bashar Assad.

More than 850 people, including women and children, have been killed in the unrest and at least 8 000 arrested, according to rights groups.

The authoritarian regime has blamed the violence on "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign agitators.

  • slg - 2011-05-17 23:41

    This is the beauty of our information age. Just ten years ago, thugs like Bashar Asad and his cronies could deny this and we'd give them the benefit of the doubt. Now, with video footage and photos from multiple sources confirming the reality, world leaders are forced to confront the truth. Asad, time to choose. Your destiny is here. Will you live up to it, or go down like Gadhafi?

  • Martin du Plessis - 2011-05-18 11:08

    ""These reports are part of a campaign of incitement and lies against Syria," the official added." You know they're desperately lying throught their teeth when comments like this start appearing.

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