Survivor says Syrian village had been warned not to shelter anti-Assad activists

McClatchy reports: A massacre that took as many as 80 lives in Qubeir may have had its origins in a warning that government sympathizers issued to the village’s residents against harboring known anti-government activists.

A resident of Qubeir who survived the massacre said Friday that the attack took place shortly after an activist wanted by the government, known as Abu Hassan, went to Qubeir. When an army unit based nearby was notified of Abu Hassan’s presence, it began to shell the village and then sent in six tanks, accompanied by local militiamen, who killed the villagers with gunfire, sticks and knives.

“There had been threats against the village before not to harbor people who are wanted,” said the resident, who used the pseudonym Laith al-Hamway for fear of retaliation from the Syrian government.

The deaths at Qubeir, which is near the city of Hama, are the latest in what has becoming a pattern of mass killings that have followed government assaults on villages. More than 80 women and children were shot or hacked to death in May in the village of Houla in an attack that bore a striking similarity to what happened at Qubeir – government shelling, followed by house-to-house searches and killings. At both Qubeir and Houla, survivors said militiamen burned bodies and homes.

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