At least 65 bodies found with hands tied in Syria river

At least 65 people, apparently shot in the head, were found dead with their hands bound in a river in Aleppo, a watchdog said Tuesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll could rise as high as 80 in what it called a "new massacre". It was not clear who carried out the killings.

The Observatory said the bodies were found in the Quweiq River, which separates the Bustan al-Qasr district from Ansari in the southwest of the city.

A Free Syrian Army officer at the scene said at least 68 bodies had been recovered and that many more were still being dragged from the water, in a rebel-held area.

"Until now we have recovered 68 bodies, some of them just teens," said Captain Abu Sada, adding that all of them had been "executed by the regime". "But there must be more than 100. There are still many in the water, and we are trying to recover them."

A senior government security source said many of the victims were from Bustan al-Qasr and had been reported kidnapped earlier.

He accused "terrorists," the standard regime term for people fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, of carrying out the executions and spreading propaganda to deflect responsibility.

"They were kidnapped by terrorist groups, who some are accusing of being pro-regime, and executed last night in a park in Bustan al-Qasr under their control," the source said.

"It has been confirmed that a number of the victims had been abducted by armed terrorist groups and their families had made repeated attempts to negotiate their releases. We will disclose the identities of those killed as soon as we are able to secure the bodies," the source said.

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