Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2012
90 Syrians Killed in the Houla Massacre Committed by Regime Forces
May 25, 2012
Homs The Syrian Revolution General Commission
Massacre in Al Houleh 25/05/2012
The Friday protests of Al Houleh bring about a fear to the regime as
the area shakes with chants and rises against oppression. The
surrounding suburbs of Al Houleh are pro-Assad and continue to fire onto
protests using shells to disperse protests but also damaging homes of
civilians and defectors.
90 killed, including 25 children, in Syria's Houla: NGO
May 25, 2012, (AFP)–
A team of UN observers deployed in Syria to monitor a shaky truce arrived on Saturday in the town of Houla, site of a "massacre" by regime forces in which at least 90 people died, monitors said.
"A team of UN observers arrived in the village of Taldau (on the outskirts of) Houla, to document the crimes committed in the past 24 hours, in violation of the ceasefire," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syrian regime forces have "massacred" more than 90 people, including 25 children, in Houla, in the central province of Homs, the Britain-based watchdog said.
The violence caused residents to flee for safety, the monitoring group noted. "Many people are fleeing Taldau village in Houla," the Observatory said, adding that residents feared new attacks on the town, in the central province of Homs.
Amateur videos posted on YouTube showed horrifying images of children lying dead on the floor, with some of their corpses badly mangled. At least one child had had part of his head blown off.
The Britain-based watchdog condemned the Arab and international communities, describing them as "complicit with the Syrian regime in the Houla massacre."
The international community was "silent in the face of the massacres committed by the Syrian regime," it said.
The Observatory reported that "blasts" were heard in Taldahab, very near Taldau, while the monitors were on the outskirts of Houla.
State news agency SANA reported the UN monitors' arrival in Houla, adding that they had also visited the Sultaniya and Jobar districts of Homs city and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent offices there.
SANA blamed "armed terrorist groups" for the killings in Houla, adding that "clashes led to the killing of several terrorists and the martyrdom of several members of the special forces."
The opposition Syrian National Council urged the UN Security Council to act after regime forces "massacred" what it said was more than 110 people in Houla.
The latest flare-up of violence came as Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria who brokered a repeatedly violated ceasefire last month, finalised plans to return to Damascus.
On Saturday morning, demonstrations were staged across Syria to protest the killings in Houla, anti-regime activists said.
In Kfarnabel, in the northwestern province of Idlib, scores of men and women took to the streets to honour the dead, chanting: "We sacrifice our soul and life for you, O people of Houla," according to an amateur video posted on YouTube.
Protesters were also angry with the international community.
One demonstrator held up a sign reading: "Annan is singlehandedly responsible for the Houla massacre," blaming the special UN-Arab League envoy for continued violence.
More than 12,600 people have been killed in Syria since a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's rule broke out in March 2011, including nearly 1,500 since a UN-backed truce took effect on April 12, according to the Observatory.
Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.More »
Syria crisis: Houla 'massacre leaves 90 dead'
BBC News, May 26, 2012
At least 90 people, including many children, have been killed in Syria's restive Homs province, opposition activists say, calling it a "massacre".
They said scores were wounded in the violence in Houla, as government forces shelled and attacked the town.
Shocking footage has emerged of the bodies of children killed as part of one the bloodiest attacks in one area since a nominal truce began in April.
The UN said international monitors were heading to the area.
Fighting in Syria has continued despite the deployment of some 250 UN observers monitoring a cease-fire brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan - a ceasefire which the BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says now barely exists.
The UN says at least 10,000 have been killed since an uprising began in March 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
The "massacre" video which has emerged from Houla bears the sound of a man screaming:
"These are all children! Watch, you dogs, you Arabs, you animals - look at these children, watch, just watch!"
On a bedroom floor dozens of little children lie dead, their arms and legs strewn over one another. Many of their eyes are still open, bearing a look of shock and fright. They are all covered with blood and obviously suffered terrible deaths.
A girl, who is perhaps seven years old, wearing a headscarf and pink diamonte belt, lies face to face in death with a much younger boy.
Another little boy in a yellow jumper lies with his arms stretched out, almost cradling the head of the girl next to him. Blood covers both their faces and soaks their hair.
People off camera are shouting: "Oh God, oh God, oh God."
An activist in Houla told the Associated Press news agency that troops began the assault on Houla after an anti-regime demonstration following Muslim prayers on Friday.
The assault began with artillery shelling which killed 12, he said - but scores more were butchered when pro-regime thugs known as "shabiha" then stormed the area.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 90 people had died in the 24 hours since midday on Friday.
The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) said more than 110 people died and urged the UN Security Council to act, AFP news agency reported.
Activists have called a day of mourning.
Horrific video footage has emerged of dozens of dead children, covered in blood, their arms and legs strewn over one another. It is unverified, but our correspondent says such images would be difficult to fake.
In one instance, six members of a family were killed when their house was shelled, the Observatory said.
At least 20 others were killed in violence elsewhere in Syria on Friday, according to activists.
International media cannot report freely in Syria and it is impossible to verify reports of violence.
The BBC's correspondent Paul Wood and cameraman Fred Scott report from the rebel stronghold of Rastan
Earlier, a spokesman for UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan said he was planning to visit Damascus.
The spokesman declined to give a date, but diplomats in Geneva told AFP that the former UN secretary general would make the trip early next week.
'Evidence of shelling'
Meanwhile, in a letter to the Security Council, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the Syrian opposition controlled "significant parts of some cities".
He said that "established terrorist groups" could have been behind some of the recent bomb blasts in Syria judging from the sophistication of the attacks.
He said the situation remained "extremely serious" and urged states not to arm either side in the conflict.
Earlier this month, a bombing in Damascus left 55 dead in an attack which the government blamed on al-Qaeda. The attack came amid mounting fears that the terrorist group was taking advantage of the conflict to gain a foothold.
Mr Ban said Syria "has not ceased the use of, or pulled back, their heavy weapons in many areas" - one of the requirements of Mr Annan's peace plan.
"On several occasions, UNSMIS has heard the sound, or seen evidence, of shelling in population centres," he said.
On Thursday, a UN-mandated panel said Syrian security forces were to blame for most abuses in the conflict, which has continued despite the presence of UN observers, who now total 260.
Mr Annan's six-point peace agreement ordered a cessation of violence on 12 April. While casualties appeared to fall after the truce, the fighting quickly resumed to previous levels.
Activists Put Syria Attack Death Toll at Over 90
By BEN HUBBARD Associated Press BEIRUT
May 26, 2012 (AP)
Activists on Saturday raised the number of those killed in an alleged massacre by Syrian regime forces in a region in the center of the country to more than 90.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that more than 90 people had been killed in the Houla area in the 24 hours since midday Friday.
A local activist giving his name as Abu Yazan reached via Skype said 12 people died in shelling and 106 were killed when pro-regime thugs known as shabiha stormed the area.
That death toll is one of the highest for any single event since the popular uprising against Bashar Assad began in March 2011. The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed, most of them civilians.
The new violence in Houla is also a further blow to a U.N. peace plan for Syria that was supposed to start with a cease-fire between government troops and rebels on April 12 but has never really taken hold.
More than 250 U.N. observers are now deployed in Syria to oversee the truce, and a spokesman for the team said Saturday that observers were heading to Houla.
A local activist reached via Skype said regime forces started shelling the village of Houla, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the city of Homs in west-central Syria following an anti-regime demonstration following Muslim prayers on Friday. Twelve people were killed in the shelling, said the activist, who gave his name as Abu Yazan.
Later, pro-regime thugs known as shabiha stormed the village of Taldaw, just south of Houla, raiding homes and shooting at civilians.
"They killed entire families, from parents on down to children, but they focused on the children," he said.
Amateur videos posted online showed many children among the dozens of dead laid out in different rooms and covered with sheets and blankets. One video showed 14 dead children lined up on a floor, shoulder to shoulder.
Abu Yazan said most residents were fleeing the area Saturday, fearing further killings.
Activist claims and videos could not be independently verified. The Syrian government bars most media from operating inside the country.
News of the killings elicited harsh condemnations from anti-regime groups, many of which have expressed frustration with international reluctance to intervene in Syria's conflict.
Bassma Kodmani of the exile opposition Syrian National Council called on the U.N. Security Council "to examine the situation in Houla and to determine the responsibility of the United Nations in the face of such mass killings, expulsions and forced migration from entire neighborhoods."
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released an unusually harsh statement, saying Arab nations and the international community were "partners" in the killing "because of their silence about the massacres that the Syrian regime has committed."
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