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Syrian Massacre: At Least 25 Killed In Darat Azzah Village, State TV Blames Terrorists

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In this Thursday, June 7, 2012 file photo, Free Syrian Army members raise their weapons during a training session on the outskirts of Idlib, Syria. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File) | AP

BEIRUT — A video emerged Friday showing more than a dozen bloodied corpses in Syria, some of them piled on top of each other and in military uniforms, in what the government said was a "massacre" by rebels in the northern province of Aleppo.

The circumstances of the killings were not immediately clear. But in the video – which The Associated Press could not independently verify – the narrator said the dead were members of the "shabiha," or pro-regime gunmen.

Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, said terrorist groups had killed and mutilated at least 25 people in Daret Azzeh, a rebel-held area in the Aleppo countryside.

The government refers to rebels as terrorists.

"The terrorist groups in Daret Azzeh committed a brutal massacre against the citizens, whom they had kidnapped earlier in the day," SANA said.

The report said at least 25 people were killed, but others were missing.

Although the city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, has been relatively quiet since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March last year, towns and villages around it have witnessed intense clashes between troops and opposition fighters. Activists say more than 14,000 people have been killed since the uprising began.

Daret Azzeh has endured intense government shelling over the past two weeks as Assad's forces try to regain areas taken by rebels.

Also Friday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four senior army officers have defected from the regime. The group provided a video purporting to show two brigadier generals and two colonels who declared they were joining the opposition.

The group said the defections came Thursday – the same day a Syria fighter pilot flew his MiG-21 warplane to neighboring Jordan, where he was given asylum.

Thousands of soldiers have abandoned the regime, but most are low-level conscripts. The Free Syria Army, the loosely linked group of rebel forces, is made up largely of defectors.

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syria car bomb Syrian policemen inspect the site of a car bomb explosion on Mazzeh highway in the capital Damascus on July 13, 2012. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/GettyImages)

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U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice tweets:

@ AmbassadorRice : #Syria regime turned artillery, tanks and helicopters on its own men & women. It unleashed knife-wielding shabiha gangs on its own children.

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Russia says international envoy Kofi Annan will visit Moscow on Monday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria. Russia also called for an inquiry into an alleged massacre that took place in the village of Tramseh on Thursday. "We have no doubt that this wrongdoing serves the interests of those powers that are not seeking peace but persistently seek to sow the seeds of interconfessional and civilian conflict on Syrian soil," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters. Moscow did not apportion blame for the killings.


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The Associated Press obtained a video that purports to show the aftermath of an alleged massacre in the village of Tramseh, near Hama.

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How do Syria's fighters get their arms? An overview put together by Reuters explains that there are three gateways to the country -- Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.

Syrian rebels are smuggling small arms into Syria through a network of land and sea routes involving cargo ships and trucks moving through Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, maritime intelligence and Free Syrian Army (FSA) officers say.

Western and regional powers deny any suggestion they are involved in gun running. Their interest in the sensitive border region lies rather in screening to ensure powerful weapons such as surface to air missiles do not find their way to Islamist or other militants.

Read the full report here.

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syria This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a victim wounded by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. The accounts, some of which claim more than 200 people were killed in the violence Thursday, could not be independently confirmed, but would mark the latest in a string of brutal offensives by Syrian forces attempting to crush the rebellion. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)

syria This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a man mourning a victim killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)

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According to the Hama Revolutionary Council, a Syrian opposition group, more than 220 people have been killed in a new alleged massacre in Taramseh. Earlier reports said more than 100 people were killed. "More than 220 people fell today in Taramseh," the Council said in a statement. "They died from bombardment by tanks and helicopters, artillery shelling and summary executions."

Fadi Sameh, an opposition activist from Taramseh, told Reuters 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," Sameh claimed.


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Syrian activist Rami Jarrah tweets that Syrian State TV has confirmed deaths in Tremseh. "Terrorists" is often the term used by the Syrian regime for opposition forces.

@ AlexanderPageSY : Syrian State TV: clashes between security apparatus & terrorists in #Tremseh of #Hama leaves large numbers of terrorists killed #Syria

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@ Reuters : At least 100 killed in Syrian village: opposition activists

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Syrian TV says gunmen kidnapped and killed 25