UN observers warn of Syria civil war after massacre

The head of a UN mission warned on Saturday of "civil war" in Syria after his observers counted more than 92 bodies, 32 of them children, in the central town of Houla following reports of a massacre there.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined a chorus of international condemnation amid mounting calls for world action to halt the bloodshed.

The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it was no longer committed to the UN-backed peace plan for Syria unless there was prompt UN intervention to protect civilians, and called for air strikes against regime forces.

UN head of mission Major General Robert Mood called what happened in Houla a "brutal tragedy."

"This morning UN military and civilian observers went to Houla and counted more than 32 children and over 60 adults killed," Mood told reporters in Damascus. A monitoring group said 114 people had been killed in Houla.

"Whoever started, whoever responded and whoever carried out this deplorable act of violence should be held responsible," Mood said.

"Those using violence for their own agendas will create more instability, more unpredictability and may lead the country to civil war," he added.

Ban and Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy who brokered a truce which has been flouted daily since it came into effect April 12, said the massacre is a "brutal" breach of international law.

"This appalling and brutal crime, involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force, is a flagrant violation of international law," a UN spokesman quoted Ban and Annan as saying.

Condemnation also poured from Britain, France and Germany, with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he was making "immediate arrangements" for a meeting of the Friends of Syria group.

His British counterpart William Hague said "we will be calling for an urgent session of the UN Security Council in the coming days."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he was "shocked and horrified" by the killings.

Mood confirmed that artillery and tanks had pounded Houla and called "on the Syrian government to cease the use of heavy weapons and to all parties to cease violence in all its forms."

"Fighting in one of Houla's residential neighbourhoods started during the night. The circumstances that led to these tragic killings are still unclear," he said, adding that UN observers were investigating the deaths.

"As we speak now, I have other teams on the ground in Houla trying to establish more of the facts."

Amateur videos posted on YouTube showed horrifying images of dead children, with at least one child's head partly blown away.

The massacre will heighten the importance of a trip Annan is to make to Syria "soon," his spokesman said, while the Security Council is due to discuss Syria on Wednesday.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan called for an urgent Arab League meeting, saying the "massacre shows the failure of Arab and international efforts to stop the violence against civilians in Syria."

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, of which the UAE is a member, urged the international community to "assume its responsibilities" to end the bloodshed.

-- Annan peace plan going to 'hell'--

--------------------------------------

An FSA statement said it could no longer commit to the ceasefire, saying that unless the Security Council takes urgent steps to protect civilians, "Annan's plan is going to go to hell."

Earlier the head of the FSA's military council, Turkey-based General Mustafa Ahmed al-Sheikh, urged the Friends of Syria nations to launch air strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Targeted strikes would be the "appropriate stance after the heinous crime committed by Assad's assassin regime in the Houla region," he said.

The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) demanded prompt UN Security Council action.

The Britain-based Observatory said the shelling of Houla began at around midday on Friday and continued until dawn on Saturday, and said 114 people were killed.

SNC spokeswoman Basma Kodmani said "some of the victims were hit by heavy artillery while others, entire families, were massacred."

"The Syrian National Council urges the UN Security Council to call for an emergency meeting to examine the situation in Houla and to determine the responsibility of the United Nations in face of such mass killings, expulsions and forced migration from entire neighbourhoods."

State news agency SANA blamed "armed terrorist groups" for the killings, adding that "clashes led to the killing of several terrorists and the martyrdom of several members of the special forces."

Killings in Houla and elsewhere are taking place "under the eyes of the UN observers," the FSA said, urging the international community to "announce the failure of the Annan plan."

The UN-backed peace plan included the ceasefire that technically began on April 12, but the truce has been breached daily, with the Observatory saying nearly 1,500 people have been killed since April 12.

"Annan is singlehandedly responsible for the Houla massacre," read a sign held by a protester in the northwestern Idlib province town of Kfarnabel on Saturday.

A UN statement said Annan will convey to Damascus "in the clearest terms the expectations of the international community, and he will also do so during his forthcoming visit to Syria."

Regime forces also pounded rebel positions in Homs province on Saturday while helicopter gunships strafed rebels near the Turkish border, said the Observatory which reported 18 deaths elsewhere, including 13 civilians.

The Observatory says more than 12,600 people have been killed since the uprising demanding reforms and regime change began in March last year.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. In a brief despatch, North Korea's official KCNA news …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options