Top of the Morning: Reports of a New Syria Massacre; Kofi Annan’s Longshot; Hosni Mubarak’s Health Deteriorates

Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

A New Massacre in Syria

There is word of a new mass atrocity in Syria. UN Monitors are so far unable to provide verification of the incident because they are being denied access to site. If confirmed, this would be the worst massacre since the Houla killings. “The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that ‘dozens’ were killed overnight in Mazraat al-Qubair on the outskirts of Hama. But the group, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, is still documenting names. Another prominent opposition group, the Syrian National Council, tells CBS News at least 70 people were killed in the Hama incident, which they say strongly resembles what they say happened in Houla at the end of May – when 108 people were killed in shelling and house-to-house raids. The SNC says, just as in Houla, regime troops first shelled the village in Hama and then government-sponsored militiamen, known as shabiha, came in with guns and knives and killed the civilians, including in this case, they say, 42 women and children. A spokeswoman for the U.N. monitors in Syria told the Reuters news agency that a team of monitors had been sent to Hama and was “”trying to get access there.’” (CBS

Kofi Annan’s New Plan for Syria

With his Six Point Plan in near complete disarray (see above) the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria is working on a new strategy to bring Assad to heel. The plan leans heavily on Russia and Iran to plot an exit for Bashar al Assad, though their participation in a new  international “contact group” for Syria. The columnist David Ignatius has the scoop in the Washington Post, which is expected to be presented to the Security Council on Thursday. “The former secretary general’s new plan was outlined Tuesday by a diplomat who is familiar with the United Nations mission. The proposal, which is expected to be presented to the U.N. Security Council later this week, comes as Annan’s peace mediation with President Bashar al-Assad appears to have hit a dead end in Damascus, leading to growing concerns that the Syria crisis will spiral into all-out civil war. What’s intriguing about Annan’s new approach is that it could give Russia and Iran, the two key supporters of Assad’s survival, some motivation to remove him from power, and also some leverage to protect their interests in a post-Assad Syria. This would also make the plan controversial, with Israel and Saudi Arabia asking why the United Nations would give the mullahs in Tehran a share of the diplomatic action.” (WaPo

Is Hosni Mubarak on His Deathbed?

Just days after he was sentenced to life in prison, Hosni Mubarak’s health appears to be rapidly deteriorating. “Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s health took a turn for the worse Wednesday and he was placed on a ventilator several times, the state-run news agency and the prosecutor’s spokesman said. Mubarak, 84, is in a Cairo prison hospital after being sentenced to life in prison Saturday for the killing of pro-democracy demonstrators last year. Mubarak was already suffering from health problems and attended court on a gurney. The state-run news agency, MENA, and prosecutor’s spokesman Adel Saeed said Mubarak is in intensive care at the Tura prison hospital, suffering from a sharp rise in blood pressure and shortness of breath. ‘His health entered a dangerous state and he has been subjected to artificial breathing five times during the past few hours,’ MENA reported Wednesday evening.” (CNN