US posts image of 'probable mass burial' in Syria

American ambassador to Syria calls Houla massacre "indictment of the Syrian regime"; singles out Iran for supporting Assad.

Tall Daww, Houla 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Robert Ford)
Tall Daww, Houla 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Robert Ford)
US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford posted a photo on the US Embassy’s Facebook page depicting a “probable mass burial” in the Syrian town of Tall Daww, Houla.
For a larger version of the image, click here.
In an accompanying message, Ford called the massacre in Houla “the most unambiguous indictment of the regime to date,” adding that it “clearly illustrates Syrian government’s flagrant violations of its UN Security Council obligations under Resolutions 2042 and 2043 along with the regime’s ongoing threat to peace and security.”
Ford’s post came as a US government website on Friday published what it said was photographic evidence of mass graves and attacks on civilian areas by Syrian government forces.
The website, operated by a bureau of the State Department, published a series of overhead photos, taken earlier last week by commercial satellite, showing what it said were mass graves dug following a massacre near the town of Houla. It also highlights before and after satellite pictures showing mass graves near Houla.
They also showed apparent artillery impact craters near civilian areas of a town called Atarib.
Included on the Web page are pictures that apparently show artillery deployed as of Thursday near three Syrian towns and attack helicopters deployed near the towns of Shayrat and Homs.
Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari did not have an immediate reaction when reached by Reuters.
More than 100 men, women and children were massacred in Houla last week, most of them shot at point-blank range or slashed with knives.
Ford expanded on the details of the massacre, stating that at least 30 children under the age of 10 were killed, and adding that there were reports that families were summarily executed in their homes.
The ambassador placed blame for the massacre squarely on Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying that forces had used tanks and artillery to commit the crime. These are “weapons that only the regime possesses,” Ford stated.
Damascus has blamed the massacre on the opposition. Russia, which has used its veto powers to prevent the UN Security Council from sanctioning Syria, blames Islamists for the Houla massacre.
Turning to Iran, Ford said that “the Iranian regime’s interests are deeply embedded in the Assad regime’s survival – it is directly supporting the Syrian government through lethal and nonlethal means, and its Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] and intelligence services are coaching the Syrian military.”
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Ford singled out Iran’s elite Quds force for assisting Assad in carrying out attacks against civilians.
“The IRGC’s Quds force, which takes explicit instruction from the Iranian regime, appears to be helping set up the sectarian government-affiliated militias in Syria commonly referred to as the Shabiha.”
Reuters contributed to this report.