News / Middle East

Activists: Syrian Government Shelling Leaves 90 Dead

The bodies of people purportedly killed by Syrian government security forces are laid out in Houla near Homs May 26, 2012.
The bodies of people purportedly killed by Syrian government security forces are laid out in Houla near Homs May 26, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Syrian opposition forces say more than 90 people, many of them children, have been killed in a coordinated assault on a village outside the city of Homs by government artillery and militiamen. Government officials do not deny the massacre but blame unidentified "terrorists" for one of the deadliest incidents since the start of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's administration more than a year ago.

Amateur video

Handout photo released by Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows UN observers at hospital morgue before their burial in central Syrian town of Houla on May 26, 2012.Handout photo released by Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows UN observers at hospital morgue before their burial in central Syrian town of Houla on May 26, 2012.
x
Handout photo released by Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows UN observers at hospital morgue before their burial in central Syrian town of Houla on May 26, 2012.
Handout photo released by Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows UN observers at hospital morgue before their burial in central Syrian town of Houla on May 26, 2012.
Amateur video shows families burying the dead from Friday's massacre between several long rows of cinder blocks. As elsewhere in Syria, emotions in the cluster of towns that make up Houla are running high.

Witnesses say the killing began when government forces shelled the village of Teldau soon after Friday prayers. Opposition activists say some of the victims, many of whom are children, were killed in the shelling, while others were shot by pro-government militiamen known as “shabiha.”

A woman resident of Teldau claims on a video distributed by opposition forces that she and her daughters-in-law managed to escape the village after it came under attack from militiamen who destroyed part of her house.

But she says several other relatives were slaughtered by security forces dressed in black, who killed them with knives.

Observers

A team of U.N. observers  headed by General Robert Mood, arrived in Houla Saturday to investigate the killings.The general condemned the "brutal tragedy" and said the observers counted more than 32 children under the age of 10 and over 60 adults killed.  

Video of UN Observers in Syria


The acting head of the opposition Syrian National Council urged the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency session to discuss the brutality.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, condemned the violence.  The two described the attacks as an "appalling and brutal crime involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force."

Responsibility

Syrian government TV charged that “terrorists” were responsible for the massacre in Houla. The government often refers to rebel soldiers and other opponents as “terrorists,” claiming that they are part of an outside plot to destabilize the country.

Thousands of mourners turned out Saturday in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, to protest the killings. Large student protests have roiled the city in recent days, after months of relative quiet compared to the rest of the country.

Other attacks

Anti-Syrian regime mourners chant slogans as they carry the body of soldier Khaled Shurbajy, who was shot by Syrian security forces in Dir el Zour last week after disobeying orders to fire on anti-Assad protesters, May 26, 2012Anti-Syrian regime mourners chant slogans as they carry the body of soldier Khaled Shurbajy, who was shot by Syrian security forces in Dir el Zour last week after disobeying orders to fire on anti-Assad protesters, May 26, 2012
x
Anti-Syrian regime mourners chant slogans as they carry the body of soldier Khaled Shurbajy, who was shot by Syrian security forces in Dir el Zour last week after disobeying orders to fire on anti-Assad protesters, May 26, 2012
Anti-Syrian regime mourners chant slogans as they carry the body of soldier Khaled Shurbajy, who was shot by Syrian security forces in Dir el Zour last week after disobeying orders to fire on anti-Assad protesters, May 26, 2012
In the Qaddam district of Damascus, government security forces opened fire on mourners, causing a large crowd to scatter in all directions. It was not immediately clear if there were victims.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, says he doubts the killings in Houla will provoke serious international outrage, since the world has grown weary of the conflict. Still, he sees the killings as a sign that the Assad government is slowly collapsing.

“There [is] no doubt in my mind, that Assad's regime is faltering, but it is dying hard," he said. "Before the regime expires, it will take along with it a large number of innocent civilians.”

Cease-fire

The killings in Houla strike another blow at a cease-fire brokered by Kofi Annan. Close to 300 U.N. monitors are on the ground in Syria to observe the cease-fire which began on April 12, but violence is picking up again, after an initial lull.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported what he called “small progress” in implementing the plan, Friday. He went on to accuse the government of “unacceptable levels of violence and abuses.”

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs