Syria: new massacre in Homs as diplomacy stalls – live updates

• Children among the dead in alleged massacre in Homs
• Kofi Annan leaves Syria without ceasefire agreement
• Hillary Clinton to seek Russian support for latest UN draft

8.48am: The bodies of 47 women and children have been found in the Karm el-Zetoun and al-Adawiyeh districts of south-east Homs, an activist told AFP.

Horrific pictures have been posted online showing some of the alleged victims.

AFP also reports that the opposition Syrian National Council has called for an emergency UN security council meeting to discuss the massacre.

Meanwhile, a group of 43 dignitaries, including former British foreign secretary David Miliband, former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown, and the Italian writer Umberto Eco, has urged the United Nations to unite around the Arab League’s peace plan for ending the violence in Syria.

The Turkish paper Zaman, quotes a open letter to the UN from the group as saying: “splits among the international community have provided the Assad regime with a license to kill [and] that license must be withdrawn.”

8.28am: (all times GMT) Welcome to Middle East Live. Activists claim more than a dozen people have been killed in Homs after the UN-Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, left Syria without securing an agreement to stop the violence.

Here’s a roundup in more detail:


Syrian activist groups say pro-government gunmen have killed more than a dozen people in the embattled central city of Homs. Syria’s state media confirmed deaths in Homs, but blamed “armed terrorists.”

Kofi Annan has left Syria without a deal to end the year-old conflict in the country, as regime forces mounted a new assault on rebel strongholds in the north. The former UN secretary general said he had presented the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, with concrete proposals “which will have a real impact on the ground”.

Annan will now try to persuade the fractured Syrian opposition to form a more united front, according to the New York Times. It also reports that Arab League officials are hoping that a peace plan agreed to on Saturday between Arab foreign ministers and Russia could pave the way for a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria. In the proposal, Arab League members dropped their demand that Assad step down and said there should be no “foreign interference” in the conflict, meeting some of the demands of Russia and China, which have vetoed previous resolutions.

US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is due meet Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, at the UN today, where she will be hoping for signs that Russia is willing to back a new draft resolution on Syria, the Christian Science Monitor reports. But State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland acknowledged that recent consultations with council members had not resulted in an “agreed text,” and added that she was not “overly optimistic” that an agreement could be reached “in the near future.”

Foreign media companies bear the responsibility for anything that happens to journalists who “sneak” into Syria, Assad’s government has warned. Meanwhile, the funeral will be held today for Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin who was killed last month in the Baba Amr area of Homs, in an attack on a makeshift media centre.

Saudi Arabia

Thousands of students at an all-female university boycotted lectures at the weekend to protest against poor services, in a rare display of dissent from women in the Islamic kingdom. Students said security forces had broken up an earlier protest at King Khalid university on Wednesday, leaving dozens injured.


A 12-year-old boy was killed in Gaza on Sunday amid a spiralling round of militant rocket attacks and Israeli air strikes over the weekend that left at least 18 Palestinians dead and four people in Israel injured. A further 50 Palestinians were injured, five seriously, according to medical services in Gaza.


An army doctor has been acquitted of carrying out forced “virginity tests” on female protesters in Egypt last year. The presiding judge said there had been contradictions in the witness testimonies of the three women who came forward. Human rights campaigners dismissed the verdict as a sham and a protest march against the high court in Cairo is planned for this Friday.


Police use teargas on opposition protesters after unrest following the funeral of a protester who died as a result of a head wound he received in a previous protest, the Telegraph reports. Hundreds opposition supporters attended the funeral of 22-year-old Fadhel Mirza in Diraz, west of Bahrain’s capital, Manama on Saturday. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

from Matthew Weaver


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