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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs