Syrian Authorities Deny Responsibility For Houla Massacre
Facing world outrage over the massacre in Houla Friday, President Bashar al-Assad attempted to shift responsibility from his government, by accusing rebels of carrying out the massacre in Houla, Sunday morning.
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdesi said that the massacre was carried out by “terrorists,” Reuters reported.
"Women, children and old men were shot dead. This is not the hallmark of the heroic Syrian army," Makdesi said.
However, the United Nations released a joint statement on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan which implemented the Syrian government for the attacks.
“This appalling and brutal crime involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force is a flagrant violation of international law and of the commitments of the Syrian Government to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and violence in all its forms,” the joint statement read. “Those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account.”
According to activists, forces loyal to Assad killed at least 109 people, mostly women and children, in what is being called one of the bloodiest events in the 15-month-uprising in Syria, Reuters reported.
Thirty-two children under the age of 10 were among the dead, the AP reported.
Artillery and tanks were used to pound Houla, Voice of America reported.
On Youtube videos by users like Syrian Scenes, whose mission is, “Translating scenes from the Syrian uprising into English,” posted graphic footage said to be taken in the aftermath of the attacks which shows bloodied, battered bodies.
On Twitter, users tweeted with the hashtag #HoulaMassacre to speak about the massacre.
Under the username McFaul, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Michael McFaul tweeted, “All responsible powers in the international community have to work together to prevent future #HoulaMassacre. The time for action is now.”
Earlier this year, the United Nations created a six-point peace plan, which called for an end to violence by all sides, a withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from cities, deployment of the monitoring force, and dialogue between the government and opposition aimed at a Syrian-led "political transition,” Reuters reported.
However, a report released by the UN Friday on the situation in Syria showed that the peace plan has thus far not been very effective. CNN reported that the statement detailed "continuing reports of a stepped-up security crackdown by the authorities that has led to massive violations of humans rights ... including arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearance and summary execution of activists, opponents and defectors.”
In a new attempt at diplomacy, The New York Times reported Sunday that President Obama will attempt to push for the departure of President Assad under a negotiated political settlement, that would attempt satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave pieces of Assad’s government in place, similar to the strategy used in Yemen, another “strife-torn Arab country.”
However the success or failure of that plan depends highly on Russia, one of Assad’s strongest allies who has strongly opposed his removal and blocked any tough action by United Nations Security Council action against Assad this year, the New York Times reported.
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