Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Joint UN-Arab Leaguen special envoy Kofi Annan strongly condemned the massacre of Houla in Homs of more than 90 civilians as an “appalling and brutal” breach of international law.
“Those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account,” they added.
Observers from the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) confirmed the killing after having viewed the bodies in the village of Houla, where they also confirmed from an examination of ordnance that artillery and tank shells were fired at a residential neighbourhood.
General Robert Mood, the head of UNSMIS, issued a statement in which he said that UN observers went earlier today to Houla, where they counted more than 32 children under the age of 10 and over 60 adults killed.
“The circumstances that led to these tragic killings are still unclear,” the statement noted, while adding that whoever is responsible should be held accountable.
“This indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force is unacceptable and unforgivable. The killing of innocent children and civilians needs to stop,” he stated.
All three officials demand that the Syrian Government immediately cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres, and called on all parties to halt violence in all its forms. Mr. Annan is contacting the Syrian authorities to convey the expectations of the international community, and he will also do so during his forthcoming visit to Syria.
The statements came as the Free Syrian Army said it could no longer commit to the ceasefire brokered by Annan unless there was an immediate solution to regime violence, 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,” a statement by the FSA said on Saturday.
The peace plan drawn up by Annan, which took effect on April 12, stipulated that UN observers be deployed in the country to monitor a ceasefire. But the violence and bloodshed have not stopped.
State news agency SANA accused “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”.
According to videos by activists posted by Local Coordination Committees, opposition group, it showed scores of dead bodies, including children, covered by blankets following the ‘massacre’.
Activists from the region said government forces shelled Houla for 12 consecutive hours after Friday prayers. After that pro-assad thugs, known as shabiha, raided the villages, killing men on the streets and slaughtered women and children in their houses, activists said.