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UN Observers At Alleged Syria Massacres Site As Diplomatic Pressure Spikes

UN observers have reached a central Syrian village where a massacre has reportedly taken place. The visit comes as international diplomatic pressure on Damascus is mounting.

As many as 78 people are said to have been killed in an attack on the village of Qubair.

The opposition says pro-government forces were behind the killings, while the government denies responsibility, instead blaming unspecified groups of terrorists.

The reported massacre was widely condemned internationally with Western leaders renewing their calls for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to step down.

In Washington on June 8, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to discuss the international response to the Syrian crisis and to find ways "how to engender a greater response by the government of Syria to the six-point plan that he has put forward."

Annan, for his part, repeated his call for "additional pressure" to be put on Syria to "get the plan implemented."

Earlier on June 8, in Moscow, Clinton's aide Frederic Hof discussed Syria with senior Russian diplomats.

A Kremlin statement said both sides agreed on "mobilizing international support" for UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.

Such an agreement however falls well short of securing Russian support for a transition strategy that the United States says must include a full transfer of power from Syrian President Al-Assad.

Also on June 8, Germany added its voice to calls for Russia to join moves against the Assad regime for tougher UN Security Council action.

Meanwhile violence continued in Syria. At least seven people were reportedly killed on June 8 in explosions in Idlib and Damascus.

Opposition activists have also reported new battles between Syrian troops and rebels in the dissident province of Homs and in Damascus.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP