Another blood-drenched Friday in Syria: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 26 men believed to be pro-government "Shabbiha" – Assad sympathizers – were killed by rebels in Syria's northern Aleppo province.
Syrian state television said that armed militants kidnapped and executed 25 people in the Darat Azzah village in Aleppo, and "desecrated their bodies." The report described the act a "barbaric massacre."
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"Armed terrorist groups committed a brutal massacre against 25 citizens in Darat Azzah," the station said in a news flash. More people were missing but could not be confirmed dead, it said.
Local opposition members said that Daret Azza, was under "heavy, insane and hysteric shelling by the regime's artillery and helicopters."
Shelling on Homs (Photo: AFP)
Friday's violence follows one of the bloodiest days in the 15-month revolt against the Syrian president, at least 128 people were killed on Thursday, in bombing in Duma and Inkhel.
The United Nations warned Friday that the number of people needing humanitarian assistance in Syria has risen to 1.5 million from the previous estimate of 1 million as escalating violence drives more people from their homes.
Aid agencies face "significant" constraints in reaching growing numbers of civilians who need basic goods and protection, it said.
"Up to 1.5 million people now need humanitarian assistance in Syria," Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a news briefing in Geneva.
They include 350,000 in northern Idlib province and some 250,000 in the flashpoint city of Homs, where more than 100 public buildings have been turned into temporary shelters for people who have fled their homes, an OCHA statement said.
Humanitarian crisis. Homs (Photo: AFP)
The UN'S World Food Program had distributed food to 461,000 Syrians by mid-June and aims to increase that number to 850,000 in July, the statement said.
The world body, which announced on June 5 that it had reached an agreement with Syrian authorities to implement a major assistance program, has been stymied by the deteriorating security situation, according to Laerke.
Reconnaissance missions have been conducted and humanitarian hubs will be established initially in Homs and Deir al-Zor in the east. "However, given the deteriorating security situation, the deployment of staff to field locations is on hold", OCHA said.
More than 96,000 Syrian refugees have now been registered in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey - a rise of nearly 20,000 since May 31, it said, quoting the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
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