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Syria denied the opposition claims as “absolutely baseless.” The exact death toll and circumstances of the killings reported overnight in Mazraat al-Qubair were impossible to confirm.

One YouTube video purported to show the bodies of babies, children and two women wrapped in blankets and lined with frozen bottles of water to slow decomposition.

Another row of bodies lay elsewhere: a grandmother, a mother, and five siblings and two cousins, according to the video narrator. All the corpses were neatly wrapped in white sheets, more frozen water bottles tucked among them. One toddler’s arm covered her face. Their names were scrawled on pieces of paper and tucked into their shrouds.

In another video were four blackened objects that the narrator said were the remains of a mother and two children who were shelled in their home.

The authenticity of the videos could not be independently verified. Attempts to reach more witnesses and residents of the area was difficult. The Syrian government keeps tight restrictions on journalists.

A government statement published on the state-run news agency SANA said “an armed terrorist group committed an appalling crime” in Mazraat al-Qubair, killing nine women and children. It said residents appealed for protection from Hama authorities, who went to the farm and stormed a hideout of the group and clashed with them.

The statement said all members of the armed group were killed in clashes, adding that the incident was meant to pressure the Syrian regime ahead of the U.N. meeting.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said U.N. observers were initially denied access to the scene in central Hama and “were shot at with small arms” while trying to get there.

The observers were forced to turn back and were not injured, although one vehicle was hit and slightly damaged, said Kieran Dwyer, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping department. They were not able to enter Mazraat al-Qubair, he added. It was not clear who was behind the shooting.

On May 25, more than 100 people were killed in one day in a cluster of villages known as Houla in central Homs province, many of them children and women gunned down in their homes. U.N. investigators blamed pro-government gunmen for at least some of the killings, but the Syrian regime denied responsibility and blamed rebels for the deaths.

On May 30, 13 bound corpses in Deir el-Zour province, while on June 1, 11 workers were found shot to death near the town of Qusair in Homs province.

The Houla massacre brought international outrage and a coordinated expulsion of Syrian diplomats from world capitals.

Ban called the latest reported mass killing “shocking and sickening,” saying “each day seems to bring new additions to the grim catalog of atrocities.”

He said it has been evident for months that Assad and his government “have lost all legitimacy,” adding that “any regime or leader that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity.”

The White House issued a strong condemnation.

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