UN personnel inspects a damaged school in Treimsa. (AFP)
Still we don't know what happened in Treimsa. Will we ever? AFP reported that Syria denied that its armed forces carried out a massacre in the small Sunni village, which is surrounded by Alawite villages and which seemed to have been a rebel stronghold. UN investigators meanwhile returned to the village on Sunday in order to carry on with their investigation. .
According to AFP foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said at a news conference in Damascus that 37 gunmen and two civilians were killed in clashes there with rebels. He denied categorically helicopters and tanks had been used in Thursday's assault on Treimsa. "This is absolutely not true. Only troop carriers and lights weapons were used, the most powerful of weapons being RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades)," he said."What happened was not an attack by the army on innocent civilians.The aim of this news conference is to tell people that what happened was not a massacre... It was a clash between regular forces and armed groups who do not believe in a peaceful solution."
The UN observers, who returned on Sunday, said after their visit on Saturday that they saw blood and evidence of the use of heavy weapons as well as burned out homes. They did not give a casualty toll. "On the basis of this preliminary mission, UNSMIS can confirm that an attack, using a variety of weapons, took place in Treimsa on July 12," said Sausan Ghosheh, spokeswoman for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria. "The attack on Treimsa appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists. There were pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases," she said. "The UN team also observed a burned school and damaged houses with signs of internal burning in five of them," Ghosheh said, adding that a "wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms."
Makdissi said "only five buildings where there were very sophisticated weapons were targeted."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had said more than 150 people were killed in the assault which it alleged was a massacre carried out by the army backed by pro-regime shabiha militiamen. "It might be the biggest massacre committed in Syria since the start of the revolution," in March 2011, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Meanwhile violence killed at least 55 people on Sunday, the Observatory said. The town of Rastan, a rebel stronghold in the central province of Homs, was shelled as well as the Damascus neighbourhoods of Tadamon Kfar Sousa, Nahr Aisha and Sidi Qadad. According to the Observatory it was the heaviest fighting in Damascus since the beginning of the uprising.
On Saturday at least 118 people got killed, 32 opposition warriors, 37 soldiers of the Syrian army and 49 civilians, according to the Observatory,.