Another Syrian massacre

The body count on this one is at least 78. And the method of execution is familiar - a single gunshot to the back of the head.


The man tasked by the United Nations with finding an end to the war in Syria warned Tuesday that the country faces "unprecedented levels of horror" and is on the verge of splintering.

Even as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi delivered his grim message to the UN Security Council, rebel fighters in the battlefront city of Aleppo found the bodies of 78 young men, all executed with a single gunshot.

It was not clear which of the warring parties was behind the massacre. Rebels blamed Bashar al-Assad's regime, but state media said that a jihadi Islamist opposition faction had carried out the killings.

Whatever the truth, the killings added to an atmosphere of despair as the UN and Arab League envoy arrived in New York to brief the Security Council.

Diplomats at UN headquarters said Brahimi had reported that he had made "no progress" in efforts to establish talks on a political transition in a country where 22 months of war have left more than 60,000 dead.

"The tragedy does not have an end," Brahimi said, adding that Assad's legitimacy has been "irreparably damaged" but warning that the regime could still cling to power and perpetuate the bloodshed indefinitely.

"I'm sorry if I sound like an old broken record," he added, according to diplomats. "The country is breaking up before everyone's eyes. Only the international community can help, and first and foremost the Security Council."

It hardly matters who carried out the carnage, what matters is stopping it. But the conflict appears to have taken on a life of its own and is entirely resistant to any diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis.

Syria will be a failed state - an extraordinarily dangerous place as the jihadists will be able to run free and carry out attacks against western interests. The chaos will be to their advantage, so it is unlikely they will want to participate in any post-Assad nation building. As in Libya, they will find a use for all the weapons that have come into their hands - to the detriment of our security and the security of our friends in the region.