ALEPPO/KUWAIT CITY (AFP/Reuters) - The bodies of at least 65 young men and boys, all executed with a single gunshot to the head or neck, were found on Tuesday in a river in the Syrian city of Aleppo, while charity organisations pledged $182 million for Syrians affected by their country’s deadly conflict, as the US promised another $155 million ahead of a donors conference in Kuwait.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 65 bodies were found in the Quweiq River, which separates the Bustan al-Qasr district from Ansari in the southwest of the city, but that the toll could rise significantly. A Free Syrian Army officer at the scene said at least 68 bodies had been recovered and that many more were still being dragged from the water, in a rebel-held area. “Until now we have recovered 68 bodies, some of them just teens,” said Captain Abu Sada, adding that all of them had been “executed by the regime.” “But there must be more than 100. There are still many in the water, and we are trying to recover them.”
A senior government security source said many of the victims were from Bustan al-Qasr and had been reported kidnapped earlier. He accused “terrorists,” the standard regime term for people fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, of carrying out the executions and spreading propaganda to deflect responsibility. Meanwhile, people were gathering at the bank seeking lost relatives. “My brother disappeared weeks ago when he was crossing (through) the regime-held zone, and we don’t know where he is or what has become of him,” said Mohammed Abdel Aziz, as he looked at the mud-covered bodies one by one.
Meanwhile, charity organisations pledged $182m for Syrian refugees. The announcement was made during a meeting hosted by the International Islamic Charitable Organisation of Kuwait, state news agency KUNA reported. IICO head Abdullah al-Maatuq said the funds would go toward aiding millions of Syrians displaced at home or who have fled to neighbouring countries.
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama announced an extra $155m to aid refugees fleeing what he said was “barbarism” propagated by the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Syrian rebels captured early Tuesday a vital bridge across the Euphrates river in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor that could cut off regime supplies to the adjoining province of Hasakeh, a watchdog said.
Meanwhile, a second pair of Patriot missile batteries being sent by Nato countries to defend Turkey against possible attack from Syria was also operational, a German security official said on Tuesday.