Syria Qubair: Bloody Traces Of Massacre Seen In Village

The smell of burnt flesh and evidence of bloodshed have greeted a BBC correspondent entering the village of Qubair in Syria, scene of a massacre.

Unverified video released on Friday is said to show the city of Homs being shelled

The smell of burnt flesh and evidence of bloodshed have greeted a BBC correspondent entering the village of Qubair in Syria, scene of a massacre.

Paul Danahar, who was travelling with UN monitors, found buildings gutted and burnt in the deserted tiny village near the western city of Hama.

Violence continues across Syria, with reports of shelling in Homs and bomb attacks on security forces elsewhere.

The Red Cross has warned that 1.5 million people need humanitarian aid.

Condemning the Qubair massacre earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned of an imminent danger of civil war and the international peace envoy, Kofi Annan, has said his six-point peace plan is not being implemented.

As many as 78 people are said to have been killed in the Qubair attack. State media gave a figure of nine.

The opposition blamed it on militia allied to President Bashar al-Assad while the government accused "terrorists" of killing civilians.

Clandestine activists say government forces removed many of the bodies while the UN observers were being hindered from reaching the village on Thursday, coming under fire at one stage.

UN monitors finally reached Qubair on Friday, with Paul Danahar accompanying them. After seeing deserted houses which bore marks of bloodshed and burning, our correspondent left again for Damascus.

Annan plan dead?

The militiamen accused of the killings at Qubair are known as shabiha, and are mainly from the minority Alawite community of President Bashar al-Assad.

The victims appear to be mostly Sunni Muslims, who make up the majority of the population.

Analysts say the major fear is that Syria falls victim to the kind of sectarian violence that tore Lebanon apart for decades.

Speaking at the UN in New York on Thursday, Mr Ban warned the danger of full-scale war was "imminent and real".

While the Annan plan remained the focus of peace efforts, he said, urgent talks were needed on how further to proceed.

The US is demanding decisive action, and Mr Annan is pushing for a contact group of key nations to raise pressure for an end to the violence.

Both China and Russia have twice blocked Security Council resolutions against Syria and have restated their opposition to outside military intervention in the conflict.

"Some say that the plan may be dead," Mr Annan said before meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says about 1.5 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in Syria.

Its aid workers report that food, medical care and shelter are in short supply and even bread has become hard to find, while more and more people are being driven from their homes.

'Homs shelled'

On Friday, clandestine activists said government forces had resumed shelling the Khaldiyeh area of Homs, which is controlled by rebels.

"Khaldiyeh is being subjected to five to 10 shells a minute in the worst shelling since the revolution began," the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

Other attacks were reported across the country

A car bomb in the north-western city of Idlib killed two police officers and three civilians, wounding others, state TV said

A car bomb in Rif Dimashq, near Damascus, killed three police officers and caused injuries, according to state TV

A blast in the Damascus suburb of Qudssaya killed two security forces members, AFP news agency reports

About 200 people are said to have died on Wednesday and Thursday, in figures which could not be confirmed independently.

The UN says at least 9,000 people have died since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011. In April, the Syrian government reported that 6,143 Syrian citizens had been killed by "terrorist groups".

The UN has 297 unarmed observers in Syria to verify the implementation of Mr Annan's plan.