26 May 2012, 23:02

Syrian authorities deny carrying out Houla massacre

Syrian authorities deny carrying out Houla massacre

Syrian authorities on Sunday denied carrying out a massacre that opposition activists said killed at least 109 civilians in the central town of Houla, among the worst carnage in the 14-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

"Women, children and old men were shot dead. This is not the hallmark of the heroic Syrian army," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdesi told reporters in Damascus.

Last update 14:30

Ban, Annan condemn 'brutal' Syria massacre

UN leader Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on Saturday condemned a massacre of more than 90 civilians in Syria as an "appalling and brutal" breach of international law, a spokesman said.

Ban and Annan "condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children" at Houla, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

The UN secretary general and the special envoy demanded that whoever is to blame "must be held accountable."

Outrage grows over Syria massacre

Western nations are pressing for a response to the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, with the US calling for an end to what it called President Bashar al-Assad's "rule by murder".

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council this week.

The killings have sparked a chorus of international condemnation.

The EU, Arab League, France, Britain and Germany all expressed shock over the incident and called for an intensification of pressure on the Assad government, while the UN demanded that Syria stop using heavy weapons in populated areas.

The UN has confirmed the deaths of at least 92 people in Houla, including 32 children under the age of 10.

Free Syrian Army drops Annan's peace plan

An opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) said on Saturday it would not adhere to the peace plan, brokered by the UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, unless the UN Security Council ensures safety for civilians, Al Jazeera reported.

"We announce that unless the UN Security Council takes urgent steps for the protection of civilians, Annan's plan is going to go to hell," Al Jazeera cited the FSA’s statement.

The statement comes the next day after the deadliest act of violence in Houla, a town in Homs province, where over 90 people were reported to be killed by the pro-government forces.

92 people killed in Syria

UN observers have confirmed the deaths of civilians in the Syrian town of Hula.

The Syrian Center for the Monitoring of Human Rights reported that the Syria Government Army had shelled the city of Hula, according to updated figures resulting in the 92 people being killed, among them 30 children.

The head of the UN observer mission in Syria, General Robert Mood described the events in Hula as a “brutal tragedy," but did not specify whom the observers say is guilty. Syria's government has blamed the deaths on "armed terrorist gangs".

This is one of the bloodiest attacks in one area since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. Activists say some of the victims died by shelling, while others were summarily executed, or butchered by the regime militia known as the "shabiha".

Special Envoy of the UN and Arab League General Kofi Annan intends to visit Damascus shortly and to meet with the opposition to discuss urgent measures for the settlement of the conflict that has lasted for over a year.

According to the Annan’s plan there has been a ceasefire in effect since April which UN observers are supposed to be monitoring.

Reuters, AFP, BBC, TASS, RIA

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