BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!

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I'm working on a major piece on Kofi Annan I hope to publish here late tonight or tomorrow, but I just took a look at Twitter and this needs to be covered now. If true this is the biggest single massacre yet.

Tremseh before it was drowned in blood

The BBC News has just published this:

Syrian army shelling 'kills more than 100' in Tremseh
12 July 2012 Last updated at 17:59 ET

More than 100 people are reported to have been killed in the Syrian village of Tremseh, in Hama province.

Opposition activists quoted residents as saying the village was attacked with helicopter gunships and tanks.

Pro-government Shabiha militia later went in on foot and carried out execution-style killings, they said.

According to the opposition Local Coordination Committees, at least 189 people were killed on Thursday in Syria, including 22 in Homs.

The Revolution Leadership Council of Hama told the Reuters news agency that most of the dead in Tremseh were civilians.

Other uncomfirmed reports suggested government troops had been trying to take back the village from opposition hands.

Reuters just put up this:

Top News
Death toll in attack on Syrian village is over 200: activists
Thu, Jul 12 18:15 PM EDT

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian government forces killed more than 200 people, most of them civilians, in a village in the province of Hama on Thursday, opposition activists said.

The village of Taramseh was shelled by Syrian troops and later stormed by pro-government Shabbiha militia, they said. Several people in the village were killed by the shelling and more were shot later in the head, execution-style, they added.

Syrian television said three security personnel had been killed in fighting in Taramseh, and accused "armed terrorist groups" of committing a massacre there.

A statement by the Hama Revolutionary Council said: "More than 220 people fell today in Taramseh. They died from bombardment by tanks and helicopters, artillery shelling and summary executions."

Fadi Sameh, an opposition activist from Taramseh, said he had left the town before the reported massacre but was in touch with residents.

"It appears that Alawite militiamen from surrounding villages descended on Taramseh after its rebel defenders pulled out, and started killing the people. Whole houses have been destroyed and burned from the shelling.

"Every family in the town seems to have members killed. We have names of men, women and children from countless families," he said, adding that many of the bodies were taken to a local mosque.

Ahmed, an activist from the Union of Hama Revolutionaries said: "We have reports of more than 220 killed. So far, we have 20 victims recorded with names and 60 bodies at a mosque. There are more bodies in the fields, bodies in the rivers and in houses ... people were trying to flee from the time the shelling started and whole families were killed trying to escape."

The reports could not be independently confirmed. Syrian authorities severely restrict the activities of independent journalists.

If the accounts are accurate, the incident would be the worst of its kind in the rebellion against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad that began 16 months ago.

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

This so bad!
more, later

They saw it coming: This was an early tweet:

The Herald Sun is now reporting:

Syria uses tanks, helicopters in massacre
From: AAP
July 13, 2012 8:29AM

SYRIAN troops using tanks and helicopters have killed more than 100 people in the central province of Hama, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
"Government troops bombarded the village using tanks and helicopters," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by telephone on, putting the death toll in the village of Treimsa at more than 100.

He said that the bodies of 30 villagers had already been identified following the sustained attack on Thursday, which brought the day's death toll in the conflict-torn nation to more than 150.

The state-run SANA news agency said there had been clashes between the army and an armed terrorist group in the village but made no mention of a massacre and gave no overall death toll.

"There were heavy losses among the ranks of the terrorists," said the report, adding that three soldiers were killed.

Earlier on Thursday the Britain-based observatory reported that "regime forces pounded Treimsa" killing eight civilians and one Free Syrian Army rebel.

The Syrian Revolutionary General Commission had reported that one of the Treimsa victims was a doctor shot dead while trying to help the wounded.

"The village school was totally destroyed," a Hama-based activist calling himself Abu Ghazi told AFP via Skype.

"Every month, there is a major attack somewhere in Hama province. Arbitrary detentions happen every day," the activist said.

He said that with Idlib in the northwest, Homs in the centre and much of the countryside of Aleppo in the north "out of control, the regime is trying to keep Hama on its side".

"Hama is in the centre of Syria, and is a link in a chain of provinces where anti-regime feeling is strong; the regime will do anything to keep it controlled."

The NY Times finally got the news:

Massacre Reported in Syria as Security Council Meets
Published: July 12, 2012
The site of the reported massacre, the village of Tremseh near the city of Hama, an epicenter of the 17-month-old uprising, was the first mass killing since United Nations cease-fire monitors were forced to suspend their work in Syria a month ago because conditions were too dangerous for them.

Activists in Hama posted a video on Youtube accusing the government of “ethnic cleansing in Hama,” and said the killings in Tremseh were “unlike any massacre that has previously occurred in Syria.” Tremseh is a Sunni-populated village surrounded by villages whose residents are of Mr. Assad’s Alawite sect.

Initial sketchy reports of a large number of casualties in Tremseh, first conveyed in a flood of Twitter postings

The Guardian has a piece with video from Tremseh. This is the first I've seen but they'll be more.

Man wounded in Hama, Syria | 12 July 2012

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Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakoutFri Jul 13, 2012 at 6:27 AM PT: These videos are reported to be the martyrs of the Tremseh massacre. 12-07-2012

Syrian Army tank in Tremseh | 12-07-2012

Man attacked in Tremseh, expects to die soon |12-07-2012

The BBC News is reporting this morning:

Syria unrest: 'Massacre leaves 200 dead' in Tremseh
13 July 2012 Last updated at 06:31 ET

Some 200 people have been killed in an attack on the Syrian village of Tremseh, opposition activists say.

If confirmed, it would be the bloodiest single event in the Syrian conflict.

Residents said the village, in Hama province, was attacked with helicopter gunships and tanks, and later by the pro-government Shabiha militia, who carried out execution-style killings.

State media blamed "terrorist groups" who were trying to raise tension ahead of a key UN Security Council meeting.

The mandate for the UN's observer mission to Syria expires on 20 July.

UN observers are now trying to get to Tremseh to investigate the killings.

UN and Arab League special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan said he was "shocked and appalled" by the news from Tremseh, adding that it was "desperately urgent that this violence and brutality stops".

Some 16,000 people are thought to have been killed since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's regime began in March 2011.

Individual reports of casualties often cannot be independently verified, as Syria severely restricts journalists' freedom of movement.

Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 6:54 AM PT: BBC News just posted this very informative report:

Syria crisis: Conflicting reports of Tremseh killings
13 July 2012 Last updated at 09:33 ET

There are conflicting reports from Syria about the deaths of dozens of people in Tremseh, a village in Hama province.

Opposition activists and witnesses say army tanks bombarded the village on Thursday for several hours before pro-government militiamen swept in, shooting and stabbing victims at close range. They report that as many as 220 people were killed, including a number of rebel fighters.

The Syrian government says at least 50 people were killed in Tremseh, but it blames "armed terrorist groups".

If the opposition's death toll and accounts are confirmed it would be one of the worst massacres since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.
'Bodies burned'

Tremseh is a predominantly Sunni Muslim farming village about 35km (20 miles) north-west of the city of Hama, surrounded by villages dominated by Alawites, the Shia heterodox sect to which President Assad belongs.

According to initial accounts from activists and witnesses, a convoy of more than a dozen vehicles, containing uniformed soldiers and members of a pro-government militia - known as "shabiha" - as well as tanks and artillery, surrounded Tremseh at about 06:00 (03:00 GMT) on Thursday, searching for members of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).

A resident of the nearby Kfar Hod, Abu Mohammed, told the New York Times that the soldiers and tanks were deployed to the east of the village, from where they opened fire with heavy weapons and machine-guns.

Shabiha were deployed along the western edge of Tremseh and "fired at anyone or any car that tried to leave the village", he added. The River Orontes provided a natural barrier to the south.

An account published on Thursday afternoon said the electricity and telephone lines were also cut, causing people to gather in the streets "in a state of fear and panic", "unable to flee because of the blockade".

It appears that there were members of the Free Syrian Army in the village, but it is not clear how many and to what extent they resisted.

However, activists and witnesses all said that after the bombardment subsided in the afternoon, shabiha swept into the village and killed people one by one. Many were shot or stabbed, and dozens of bodies were burned or dumped in the streets, they added.

The UN Stabilisation Mission in Syria (Unsmis) confirmed there had been "continuous fighting" on Thursday in the Tremseh area, which had "involved mechanised units, indirect fire, as well as helicopters".
'Ethnic cleansing'

Activists later published a video online purportedly showing the blood-stained bodies of at least 15 young men laid out on blankets on a concrete floor, their faces or shirts drenched in blood. Some had wounds in their heads and chests. Most of the men were wearing jeans and t-shirts, though one had a camouflage jacket.

Another video allegedly showed a survivor of the massacre. The narrator accused the government of "ethnic cleansing" and said the killings in Tremseh were "unlike any massacre that has previously occurred in Syria".

Abu Mohammed said he had visited Tremseh after the massacre and seen bodies in fields, on streets and in homes. He said about 50 bodies had been pulled out of the River Orontes, and that most of the victims were farmers.

Musab al-Hamadi, an activist based in Hama, told the BBC that the names of 100 victims had been documented before they were buried on Friday. There were far more bodies which had not yet been recovered from nearby fields or the river, he added.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, an opposition activist network, reported that more than 220 people had been killed in Tremseh.

"A heinous criminal act was added to the regime's track record of horrors which do not discriminate between man, woman, or child," it said.

"The same methodology, tools and means as previous massacres was used: forces of the regime's army shelled the town, shabiha then stormed the town and killed and slaughtered individuals and then burned the wounded and the bodies of the martyrs."

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had reports that more than 150 people had been killed, though it had collected only 40 names of the victims. Dozens of the dead were rebel fighters and about 30 bodies were burned, it added.

Jaafar, an activist with the opposition Sham News Network (SNN), also told the AFP news agency most of those killed had been FSA fighters.

"At this stage, though we do not yet have the final count, the number of civilians killed by shelling is not more than seven," he said.
'Terrorists captured'

The Syrian government also reported a mass killing in the village.

The state news agency, Sana, said "tens of terrorists" had overrun Tremseh, killing or wounding dozens of civilians and ransacking or destroying scores of houses.

It cited a witness, Abu Arif al-Khalid, who said the assailants had "opened fire on [Tremseh's] inhabitants and houses at random, killing more than 50 people, and blowing up houses".

"A woman and her child were killed by the terrorists before the eyes of all the people there, added Abu Arif al-Khalid," Sana reported.

Security forces only arrived at the village after receiving calls from residents, officials said.

Once there, the troops clashed with the attackers, "inflicting huge losses upon them, capturing scores of them, confiscating their weapons, among which were Israeli-made machine-guns", the Sana report added.

The agency published no photos or videos to support the accounts.