Dozens Killed in Hama
Opposition activists report that armed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed about 100 people, including women and children, in a village in Hama province. Mousab al-Hamadee, an activist in Hama, told Al Jazeera that the attack bore similarities to last month’s massacre in Houla. The Syrian government has denied having a role in the killings, instead attributing the massacre to terrorist groups. “What a few media have reported on what happened in al-Qubayr, in the Hama region, is completely false,” the government said in a statement on official television. Meanwhile UN observers have been prevented from reaching the village where the killings were reported. The mission described obstruction from Syrian Army checkpoints, in some cases being turned back.
In related news, Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab league envoy to Syria is set to give his latest assessment of the Syrian crisis to the UN general Assembly. Annan is said to be hoping to avoid collapse of his plan for a negotiated political solution. There are reports that he will present a plan for creating a “contact group”, though it is unclear whether that will be acceptable to Syria’s allies, Russia and China. Additionally, a senior Russian Diplomat said Thursday that Russia would accept a Yemen-style power transition in Syria if it were decided by the people. Russia continues its positions of non-interference, holding that it will be up to the Syrian people themselves to decide the fate of Assad. “The Yemen scenario was discussed by the Yemenis themselves,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, adding, “If this scenario is discussed by Syrians themselves and is adopted by them, we are not against it.”
Also, Joshua Landis argued in Foreign Policy that the U.S. cannot afford an intervention in Syria and called the prospects of democracy taking root in the young and poor country unlikely.