UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. observers who on Friday visited the site of a reported massacre in a Syrian village saw indications that government forces had been there and traces of slaughter in some of the houses, the United Nations said.
United Nations monitors issued a statement on their visit to the Syrian hamlet of Mazraat al-Qubeir, where opposition activists say at least 78 people were massacred on Wednesday.
"Mazraat al-Qubeir was empty of its own residents and thus the observers were not able to talk to anyone who witnessed Wednesday's attack," the statement said.
It said armored-vehicle tracks were visible in the vicinity and some homes were damaged by rockets from armored vehicles, grenades and weapons ranging in caliber. Only the Syrian army has armored vehicles and heavy weapons.
"Inside some of the houses, blood was visible across the walls and floors," the statement said. "Fire was still burning outside houses and there was a strong stench of burnt flesh."
"The circumstances surrounding this attack are still unclear," it added. "The names, details and number of those killed are still not confirmed. The observers are still working to ascertain the facts."
The U.N. observers had been trying to reach the tiny farming village of about 150 people since Thursday but had been shot at and turned back by both security forces and residents.
Some 300 U.N. observers are in Syria to monitor a ceasefire between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels that was declared by peace envoy Kofi Annan on April 12 but never implemented.
A recent massacre in the town of Houla claimed the lives of at least 108 men, women and children. The United Nations has said it believes Syrian government forces and allied militia perpetrated the Houla killings.
Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by David Brunnstrom