Bodies anti-gov't protesters say were killed by gov't 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Multiple voices within the international community condemned Saturday the killing of over 92 people and the wounding of hundreds more in the
village of El-Houleh, near Homs.
Activists said there was an
artillery barrage by government forces, in the worst violence since the
start of a UN peace plan to slow the flow of blood in Syria's uprising.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League special envoy to
Syria Kofi Annan, condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms."
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 centers and violence in all its forms. Those
responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account," the
UN secretary general and special envoy said in a joint statement.
demanded "the government of Syria immediately cease the use of heavy
weapons in population centers," and extended their sympathies to the
families of the victims and to the wounded.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also condemned the attack.
who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account,"
she said in a statement. "And the United States will work with the
international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his
cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end."
The bloodied bodies
of children, some with their skulls split open, were shown in footage
posted to YouTube purporting to show the victims of the shelling in the
central town of Houla on Friday. The sound of wailing filled the room.
carnage underlined just how far Syria is from any negotiated path out
of the 14-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad.
morning UN military and civilian observers went to Houla and counted
more than 32 children under the age of 10 and over 60 adults killed,"
the head of UN team monitoring the ceasefire - which has yet to take
hold - said.
"The observers confirmed from examination of
ordinances the use of artillery tank shells," Major General Robert Mood
said in a statement, without elaborating. "Whoever started, whoever
responded and whoever carried out this deplorable act of violence should
be held responsible."
said Assad's forces shelled the town of Houla on Friday evening after
security forces killed a protester and following skirmishes between
troops and fighters from the Sunni Muslim-led insurgency fighting
Syria's rulers, who belong to the minority Alawite sect.
British-based opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,
said Houla residents fled, fearing more shelling. It said one person
was killed in the northern town of Saraqeb when troops fired on a
protest against the killing.
Syrian state television aired some
of the footage disseminated by activists after the killing in Houla,
calling the bodies victims of a massacre committed by "terrorist" gangs.
It also showed video of bodies with what looked like gunshot wounds to the head, sprawled on bloodstained mattresses.
Activists distributed footage appearing to show protests in Aleppo, the largest city in the north.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned the violence as a "massacre",
and said he wanted to arrange a meeting in Paris of the Friends of
Syria, a group that brings together Western and Arab countries keen to
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was
coordinating a "strong response" to the killings and would call for the
Security Council to meet in the coming days.
In a statement, Arab
League head Nabil Elaraby called the killing in Houla a "horrific
crime", urging the UN Security Council - where Russia and China have
protected Syria - to "stop the escalation of killing and violence by
armed gangs and government military forces."