Middle East

Syrians trade blame on Homs family 'massacre'

The Syrian government and the opposition have accused each other over a massacre in Homs, after footage was shown by a pro-government TV station.

Al-Dunya broadcast footage of what it said was a family of 17 people who had been stabbed and shot by "terrorist gangs" in the Baba Amr district.

But opposition activists said the victims were killed by government forces and published their names.

Troops entered Baba Amr last Thursday after almost four weeks of bombardment.

State media have since declared that the authorities have "restored stability and security" to the district, but the International Committee of the Red Cross has been denied access to deliver aid and help the wounded.

'Death to the agents'

The al-Dunya report showed victims, including women, ranging from a one-year-old child to an 85-year-old man, all from the Sabouh clan.

Image caption Al-Dunya said pale graffiti was scrawled on the walls, signed by the rebel Free Syrian Army

Several of the victims appeared to have been shot in the head, with some showing signs of deep cuts to the face and other body parts.

Al-Dunya said it was the work of "armed terrorist gangs", who have been blamed by the government for all the violence in the country.

Pale graffiti scrawled on the walls, purportedly signed by the rebel Free Syrian Army, said: "Death to the agents."

The BBC's Jim Muir says the text is ambiguous in that it could refer to "agents of the regime" or "agents of the conspiring outside powers".

But activists distributed the YouTube link for the footage, and said they were the work of security forces.

They named all the victims as "martyrs" of the revolution.

Last week, the global campaign group Avaaz said 17 bodies had been found on the outskirts of Baba Amr on 29 February. It said it had verified the victims' names and that six were from the Sabouh family.

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