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Kfar Owaid massacre will haunt Syria

Arab League should take more forceful action against the Al Assad regime

Gulf News

The Syrian armed forces killed at least 111 people in one terrible day this week when they surrounded the village of Kfar Owaid in the northern province of Idlib and unleashed a barrage of tank shells, rockets, gunfire, as well as bombs filled with nails according to witnesses. The bloodbath that left no survivors in the village, and the massacre was part of days of continuous action by the Syrian armed forces that left more than 200 Syrians dead.

This shocking death toll was perpetrated on the very day of the supposed start of the Arab League's plan to send in observers and stop the violence. The government's willingness to continue killing its own people means that it is difficult to trust it when it claims to be ready to accept the Arab League's plan to end the violence and send in observers to make sure that the troops stop shooting unarmed people.

The massacre was strongly condemned by governments around the world. The White House said it was "deeply disturbed"; France called it a "murderous spiral", and even the supine Arab League managed to remind the Al Assad government of its responsibilities to protect its civilians. More than 5,000 people have died in the nine-month uprising which has continued since March.

The killing this week requires the Arab League and its member states to take more forceful action. They cannot sit back and watch its proposals for the end of violence be ignored to such devastating effect. If the Arab League is capable of further action, then it should call another summit, and be prepared to entertain leaders of the Syrian opposition to understand how the League can facilitate a dialogue between the opposition and the government.