Children fleeing the violence in Hama province
Anti-Bashar al-Assad activists say they have found more than 70 bodies and point to Syrian security forces and regime loyalists as the killers.
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Activists say they have found more than 70 bodies in Hama in what appears to be a new massacre conducted by the Syrian security forces and Assad loyalists.

The corpses of 78 people, including 40 women and children, were found in Hama, according to reports. The Syrian National Council put the total death toll higher and estimated that more than 100 people were killed.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has a list of the names of 73 people they say were killed in the massacre.

In the last two weeks activists have repeatedly found hundreds of bodies abandoned in several of the country's provinces, including 108 civilians killed in Houla on May 25.

The fresh killings took place in the village of Al-Kubeir, in the central province of Hama.

Activists blamed the attack on the Shabiha, a militia of pro-Assad thugs who have been blamed for a series of brutal murders.

Shabiha-led attacks on civilians were first reported in 2011, and in recent weeks they appear to have stepped up their offensive.

"Shabbiha headed into the area after the shelling and killed dozens of citizens, among them women and children,"according to a statement by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

"The Syrian regime cut off all means of communications, Internet, power and water in the area so that it could perpetrate the massacre in silence. The area was besieged by tanks and checkpoints, which explains the delay in reporting and documenting the massacre and the victims."

Activists and survivors said militiamen entered homes, killing civilian after civilian. Army soldiers raided the village of Jreijis and burned down many houses, then assaulted villagers in Ma'arzaf, the SOHR noted.

"What a few media have reported on what happened in Al-Kubeir, in the Hama region, is completely false," the Syrian government said in a televised statement. "A terrorist group committed a heinous crime in the Hama region which claimed nine victims. The reports by the media are contributing to spilling the blood of Syrians."

Diplomatic Developments

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has called for a "full transfer of power" in Syria, AFP reports.

During a meeting in Turkey with officials from 16 regional and European powers Clinton set forth "essential elements and principles that we believe should guide that post-Assad transition strategy, including Assad's full transfer of power," a senior state department official said.

Other elements include "the establishment of a fully representative and inclusive interim government which leads to free and fair elections, a ceasefire to be observed by all and equality for all Syrians under the law," the official said.

Despite new calls for international mobilisation against the regime following two days of talks between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders, Moscow and Beijing said they strongly oppose military intervention.

Following the collapse of his six-point peace plan, Kofi Annan will propose that a group of world powers and key regional players come up with a strategy to end the 15-month conflict, UN diplomats said.

The joint UN-Arab League envoy is to present a plan to the United Nations that will involve creating a "contact group" whose final proposal must be acceptable to Syria's allies Russia and China, the Associated Press reported.

Annan will also give his latest assessment of the Syrian conflict at an open meeting of the UN General Assembly along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, and a representative of UN human rights chief Navi Pillay.