July 14, 2012 - 12:05 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - UN observers in Syria described an attack on a village in the Hama region in which about 220 people were reported killed as part of a continuing Syrian air force operation, the UN mission said in an assessment obtained by Reuters, the news agency said.
"The situation in Hama province continues to be highly volatile and unpredictable," said the "flash report" from the UN observer mission on Thursday July 12 incident.
"SAAF forces continue to target populated urban areas north of Hama City in a large scale," the report said, referring to the Syrian Arab Air Force.
Opposition sources said about 220 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the village of Tremseh when it was attacked by helicopter gunships and tanks then stormed by militiamen who slaughtered some families on Thursday.
"The operation in Tremseh is assessed as an extension of the SAAF operation in Khan Sheikhoun to Souran over the recent number of days," said the two-page report by the UN mission in Syria, known as UNSMIS.
There were no independent accounts of the number of dead or how they were killed. If scores of civilians were killed, it could make it the worst atrocity in 16 months of fighting between rebels and the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
According to the UNSMIS report, a patrol of unarmed UN military observers could get within only about 4 miles of Tremseh on Thursday before being stopped by SAAF commanders because of "military operations."
The patrol observed the situation from a few different locations around Tremseh for about eight hours during which time it heard more than 100 explosions, sporadic small arms and heavy machinegun fire and saw white and black smoke plumes.
The UN observers saw one Mi-8 and two Mi-24 helicopters and witnessed one of the Mi-24 helicopters firing air-to-ground rockets.
"The patrol received several calls from local contacts claiming 50 people had been killed and 150 wounded within Tremseh," the report said.
"Attempts to contact the local military commander during this period were unsuccessful," it said. "Patrols attempted to access Tremseh via alternate routes without success."
The report said the UN mission made further attempts to get a local ceasefire to allow the evacuation of civilians from Tremseh by contacting the Hama Governorate chief of police and the SAAF senior national liaison officer, but did not succeed.