With reports coming out of Syria about another massacre, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today used some of her sternest language yet about what she said is the Assad regime’s “unconscionable” crackdown on the Syrian people. Reuters reports she said President Bashar Assad must cede all power and leave Syria.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “Syrian activists reported two [new] attacks by pro-government forces that they say killed hundreds of people.” Other reports, including one from Reuters, cite activists as saying that ” Syrian troops and militiamen” loyal to Assad killed at least 78 people, including women and children, in central Syria on Wednesday.
As Reuters adds, “their descriptions echoed accounts of a massacre of 108 civilians at Houla on May 25, which was investigated by U.N. monitors and which the chief U.N. peacekeeper said was probably committed by Syrian troops and loyalist ‘shabbiha’ militia.”
The government has denied its forces were responsible for the massacres. Because of restrictions on reporting inside Syria, it’s impossible to independently verify the activists’ accounts. But videos and photos have emerged of the aftermath from the May 25 killings. And international investigators have issued reports about the thousands of deaths over the past year.
Clinton, who has previously said Russia’s unwillingness to fully support international efforts to pressure the Assad regime is helping to prop up Assad, said today that the U.S. is willing to work with Russia and China on a U.N.-backed plan to end the violence.
But, the BBC adds, she “reiterated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power.”
The U.N. Security Council is set to debate what to do now later today.
Protests against the Assad regime began in March 2011. Since then, the U.N. estimates, more than 10,000 people have died — most of them civilians.