July 14, 2012 - 16:46 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - United Nations officials have set off to the Syrian town of Tremseh to investigate reports of a massacre of civilians by Syrian troops and pro-government militia, The Guardian said.
A three-car convoy was seen leaving Damascus and heading for Tremseh and UN officials confirmed the destination to the Spanish Efe news agency.
The UN mission follows comments by the head of the UN monitoring mission in Syria that helicopters and tanks were used to shell Tremseh at the same time as villagers reported the killing of around 140 people.
General Robert Mood said on Friday his officials were ready to enter the town of Tremseh if a truce there took hold. He said monitors stationed in the area had personally verified that heavy weapons were directed against Tremseh on Thursday.
Late on Friday the UN said observers had been unable to contact the local military commander responsible for the area near Tremseh and its members had been refused access. It claimed the Syrian air force "continued to attack populated urban areas on a large scale" and said its observers had logged more than 100 explosions in an "ongoing military operation".
Residents of the small town of around 6,000 people said they were attacked from outlying areas late on Thursday after many hours of shelling. They blamed the attack on loyalist forces and a pro-regime militia known as the Shabiha which has been accused of being at the vanguard of other mass killings during recent months.
Syrian officials instead blamed "terrorists", who they say have been responsible for much of the violence in Syria since the uprising began almost 17 months ago.
The alleged massacre took place before a UN security council meeting that is expected to weigh a new response to the crisis in Syria, which has morphed over the past year from a series of anti-regime demonstrations in many towns and cities in Syria into a full-scale insurrection.
Some European states and the US are pushing for the UN to impose sanctions under a Chapter Seven resolution. However, Russia and China, which have staunchly supported Damascus throughout the uprising, have again indicated that they will use their vetoes to block such a move.
Damascus said earlier this week that it was committed to Annan's six-point peace plan and nominated an interlocutor that it said would represent the regime in discussions with the opposition to bring about a ceasefire.