United Nations observers found a deserted town with ruined buildings and the stench of death in the air after finally being allowed into Haffa, where the US and UN had warned of a looming massacre. "A strong stench of dead bodies was in the air," said a spokeswoman for the observers, adding that the number of casualties was unclear, and it appears that bodies were removed or buried before the UN arrived, reports AP.
More than 25,000 people are believed to have fled the besieged town ahead of a Syrian regime offensive. Rebels left the town earlier this week, warning that residents who stayed behind risked being killed in cold blood, Reuters reports. Surviving residents say the Syrian air force bombed the hospital and many other buildings. A crowd of Assad supporters turned UN monitors away from Haffa earlier in the week, but the government allowed them in after saying they had "cleansed" the town of "armed terrorist groups."