Sun, May 27, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Syria opposition urges UN action after ‘massacre’

AFP, DAMASCUS

A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network shows Syrian anti-regime protesters waving pre-Baath Syrian flags during a demonstration in Talbisseh, Homs Province, on Friday.

Photo: AFP / HO / SHAAM NEWS NETWORK

The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) has urged the UN Security Council to act urgently after claiming that regime forces massacred scores of civilians, including many children, in the town of Houla.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned the massacre and said he was “making immediate arrangements for a Friends of Syria group meeting in Paris.”

He spoke after the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) again called for the Friends of Syria group of nations to carry out air strikes on the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Against that backdrop, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights accused the Arab and international communities of being “complicit” in the killing.

The British-based Observatory said the shelling had killed more than 90 people in Houla, including 25 children.

Earlier, SNC spokeswoman Basma Kodmani said: “More than 110 people were killed [half of whom are children] by the Syrian regime’s forces [in Houla.] Some of the victims were hit by heavy artillery while others, entire families, were massacred.”

“The Syrian National Council urges the UN Security Council to call for an emergency meeting to examine the situation in Houla and to determine the responsibility of the UN in the face of such mass killings, expulsions and forced migration from entire neighborhoods,” she added.

State news agency SANA blamed “armed terrorist groups” for the killings, adding that “clashes led to the killing of several terrorists and the martyrdom of several members of the special forces.”

Late yesterday, members of the UN team of military observers in the country arrived in Houla to assess the situation, SANA and the Observatory said.

They went to the village of Taldau on the edge of Houla “to document the crimes committed in the past 24 hours, in violation of the ceasefire,” the Observatory said.

Yesterday morning, people turned out to protest the killings, anti-regime activists said.

In Kfarnabel, in the northwestern province of Idlib, scores of men and women took to the streets to honor the dead.

Protesters were also angry with the international community.

One demonstrator held up a sign that read: “[Kofi] Annan is singlehandedly responsible for the Houla massacre,” blaming the special UN-Arab League envoy for continued violence.

Annan brokered a six-point peace plan, which included a ceasefire that went into effect on April 12, but has been breeched daily since then.

He is to travel to Syria “soon” as he continues efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said. Diplomats in Geneva said the former UN secretary general would visit Damascus early next week.

France’s foreign minister condemned “the atrocities committed daily by Bashar al-Assad on his own people. With these new crimes his murderous regime plunges Syria further into horror and threatens regional stability.”

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