|Date: 28/05/2012 Time: 12:15:00 AM
Maj. Gl. Robert Mood, the Head of the UN
Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), on Sunday told the Security Council
members meeting behind closed doors via video conference from Damascus that
the massacre in Houla, near Homs, yesterday resulted in 116 deaths, including
children, a Council diplomat said.
The Council meeting was convened by Russia, which said it would not sign to
a French-British draft press statement that would "condemn in the strongest
possible terms the Syrian armed forces' heavy shelling of a civilian populated
area" yesterday until the Council hears from Maj. Gl. Mood. It is not clear
whether Mood blamed any party for the massacre. The meeting is still going on.
Maj. Gl. Mood issued a statement following yesterday's massacre, but failed
to specifically blame any party. He, however, vaguely blamed government forces.
"Whoever started, whoever responded and whoever carried out this deplorable
act of violence should be held responsible. This indiscriminate and
disproportionate use of force is unacceptable and unforgiveable. The killing
of innocent children and civilians needs to stop," he said in his statement
After Mood's briefing, the Council is scheduled to discuss the draft press
statement. While the west blames Damascus for the killings, Damascus and
Russia, its strongest ally in the Council, blamed the "terrorist groups."
Diplomats said that in order to get consensus in the Council, the west
agreed to drop "the Syrian armed forces" from the original draft. Other
diplomats are not so sure, as the negotiations are still going on.
According to Alexander Pankin, Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador, Moscow is not
convinced that government forces were behind the massacre, arguing that most
of the victims were killed with knives or shot at point-blank range.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, on the contrary, told reporters "it
seems quite clear that the massacre in Houla was caused by heavy bombardment,
by government artillery and tanks."
In a related matter, General Assembly President Nassir A. Al-Nasser today
"condemns in the strongest possible terms yesterday's heinous massacre in the
Syrian village of Haoula, near Homs," recalling that UNSMIS has confirmed that
dozens of men, women and children, under the age of 10, were killed and
hundreds were wounded, his spokesperson Nihal Saad said in a statement
Al-Nasser, she said, considers these "shocking killings in a populated
neighborhood, a flagrant violation of International Law and the commitments
made by the Syrian Government," even though the statement did not blame
government forces specifically.
He "stresses that those who perpetrated these atrocities must be held
accountable for their criminal act. He re-iterates his call to the Syrian
authorities and all parties concerned to cease all forms of violence and
respect the commitments they made in accordance with the six-point plan of the
Joint Special Envoy" Kofi Annan.
He expressed his heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims and
"re-iterated his support and that of the Member States to the Syrian people."