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Syria massacre: UN makes second attempt to reach Qubair village

UN observers are on their way to Qubair in Hama province, a day after they were shot at while attempting to investigate claims of a massacre there.

Syria UN monitors 08 06 2012Enlarge
A group of UN monitors in Damascus. The UN mission has sent reinforcements to Hama province in a second attempt to gain access to the village where pro-government forces are accused of killing at least 78 civilians. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

UN monitors are on their way to Qubair in Syria's Hama province, where government forces are accused of killing at least 78 civilians.

Observers were unable to investigate the claims yesterday, when their vehicles were fired on en route to the village. 

Syrian soldiers had earlier turned UN patrols back from nearby checkpoints, while civilians warned monitors that they would be in danger if they entered the area.

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According to Reuters, the UN mission today sent reinforcements from the Syrian capital, Damascus, in a bid to gain access. 

The plan is to send in three teams who will travel to Qubair in "waves," CBS News reported.

BBC correspondent Paul Danahar, who was accompanying the observers, confirmed their convoy had entered the area: 

According to Danahar, monitors will attempt to count bodies and interview eyewitnesses – but locals will likely be reluctant to talk. 

"Villagers will be very scared because, when the UN leaves, they have to live among people who may have carried out this atrocity," he reported for the BBC

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The Syrian government denies that a massacre took place in Qubair, saying that only nine people were killed, and by "terrorists."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned yesterday that the danger of full-scale civil war in Syria was "imminent and real," CNN reported.

"How many more times have we to condemn them and how many ways must we say we are outraged?" Ban asked following a meeting of the UN Security Council.

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is due to hold talks on Syria with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later today.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120608/syria-massacre-un-observers-qubair-hama