UNSC Condemns The Massacre In Syrian Town of Houla
Situation continues to be volatile in Syria after 90 people were killed on Friday in the town of Houla, an action that has already come to be known as “the Syrian massacre,” while a shelling in Hama, which continued until Monday morning has caused 24 to die.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that 25 people die, while the Local Coordination Committees say that the death toll is of 24. A makeshift hospital was installed. Women and children were among those who were killed.
Syrian authorities deny any involvement in the massacre at Houla, which killed women and children and was one of the worst days in the Syrian revolt against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. In spite of the denial by the Syrian authorities of involvement in this massacre, the United Nations Security Council condemned the Syrian government for the killing.
UNSC issued on Sunday a press statement in which it “strongly condemned” the killing of Houla, blaming the Syrian forces for artillery and tank shelling of residential areas. It also condemned the shooting at close range, and severe physical abuse, which killed people, but did not specify who was responsible for it.
The Security Council said that the U.N. observers in Syria should monitor and find out who is behind the attacks and that the attackers should be brought before justice. It also demanded of the Syrian president and government to implement the Kofi Annan six-point agreement, especially the first point related to the use of heavy weaponry in populated areas.
Britain and France wanted to issue a statement after the massacre condemning Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but Russia called for an immediate meeting of the council to hear the report of the U.N. observers, before blame was ascribed.
Gen Robert Mood, head of the U.N. mission, said that the observers estimate that 108 people were killed in Houla. Activists say that the army bombarded the town with heavy artillery and that the governmental troops clashed with the rebels after the Friday protests. Amateur videos show children and women dead in neat rows, covered in blood and wounds.
Activists said that most of the killings were perpetrated after the bombing, when government thugs entered the area and gunned down people in the streets and stubbed them in their homes.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said that the governmental troops were attacked by “hundreds of heavily armed gunmen,” firing mortar, heavy machine guns and anti-tank missiles. Three soldiers were killed and 16 were wounded in the battle that followed and lasted for nine hours.
The Foreign Ministry said that the troops fought back but that no one left their bases, and none of them were present at the site where the massacre was committed. The ministry spokesperson was quoted by Associated Press to have said that the Western media was “spinning a tsunami of lies” to justify the an intervention in the country.
The ministry did not produce any evidence to back up their claims, and offered no death toll, but did say that a committee was established to investigate the circumstances of the situation, and that the findings would be shared with Kofi Annan when he arrives in Damascus.
Associated Press reports that the U.N. observers released a video on Sunday in which people are being shown collecting their dead, while smoking armored personnel carrier cars wrecks show that the rebels fought more fiercely than they were given credit for by the activists.
Visiting the area on Saturday, the U.N. observers found at least 85 corpses in a mosque, displaying wounds made by artillery and shotguns, while fresh tank tracks could also be observed.
The Russian ambassador to the U.N. said that all evidence was pointing to the fact that most of the people who were murdered in Houla were either shot at close range or stubbed with knives. It remained, the Russian official continued, to be established who did this atrocity before a decision was made.
The massacre, which shatters the hopes of the international community for peace in Syria, was condemned by the entire world, although the blame is ascribed differently, depending on the side the respective states are positioned in this conflict.
The French new Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was one of the first to react on Friday to the gruesome tragedy in Houla. He demanded, in the name of the state he represents, that the Kofi Annan plan be put in practice, and that the Syrian troops be pulled out of the populated areas, something the regime has never done.
For his part, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the most senior diplomat of the British embassy would be called in the U.K. on Monday so that the clear condemnation “of the Syrian regime’s actions” be made.
On Monday, Hague went to Moscow to convey the Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, the message that Britain and the entire international community are “sickened” by the events in Syria, urging Moscow to consider its position toward Syria, and support the international actions to end the bloodshed.
Britain announced that the members of the Syrian athletic commission who are connected with the regime in Damascus in any way would not be permitted to attend the Olympic Games, causing Syrian Olympic Committee to say that London had no right to make this decision.
The Foreign Ministry of Switzerland said that an inquiry should be conducted into the events in Syria because some of the actions there may constitute war crimes. Kuwait, which is holding the rotating Arab League presidency, demanded for a meeting to decide the next steps to be taken in order to stop Syria’s actions against the people.
The killings in Houla were condemned by the leader of the Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, who said that though there were about 3,000 rebels in the area of Houla, they were equipped with light weaponry, incapable of inflicting the massacre and the damage in the videos posted by activists and U.N. observers.
The massacre of Houla comes days after an assassination attempt was made on high-ranking aides of Bashar al-Assad, who were allegedly poisoned and found their salvation in the hospital. The regime denies that it had happened.11