The New York Times reports: New details emerging Saturday about what local Syrian activists called a massacre of civilians near the central city of Hama indicated that it was more likely an uneven clash between the heavily armed Syrian military and local fighters bearing light weapons.
The United Nations observers still on the ground in Syria sent a team in 11 vehicles to the village of Tremseh on Saturday to investigate what had happened, said Sausan Ghosheh, the spokeswoman for the monitors in Damascus, the capital.
Their initial report said the attack appeared to target “specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists,” Ms. Ghosheh said in a statement. It said a range of weapons had been used, including artillery, mortars and small arms.
The report seemed to indicate that some people had been killed at close range — it said there were pools of blood and blood spatters in several houses along with bullet cases. The team also found a burned school and damaged houses.
The number of casualties remains unclear, it said, but the United Nations team planned to return on Sunday to continue investigating.
Before the United Nations team entered the town, a combination of videos, televised confessions of numerous captured fighters and reports from activists outside the area all indicated that a battle on Thursday between the military and local fighters in Tremseh, a village of 11,000 people about 22 miles northwest of Hama, resulted in a slaughter of rebel forces.
The videos that have emerged so far online, the source of much of the information on any fighting that is available outside Syria, have shown the victims to be young men of fighting age. One showed 15 bodies. Another one, said to show a group of reinforcements being sent to Tremseh, also showed a group of young men in civilian clothes carrying their personal weapons.
There were also new questions about the death toll, with initial figures from activists of more than 160 and other reports putting the toll at more than 200. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group based in Britain that has a network of contacts in Syria, said that it had been able to confirm only 103 names, and 90 percent of them were young men. There were no women’s names on the list of 103 victims obtained from activists in Homs.