(Syria): At least 90 people
including 25 children have been killed May 25 in an attack by the Syrian government forces and
loyalists on Houla, a town in Homs province.
The victims of Friday's assault included at least 25
children, killed after government forces tried to break into the
town, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Houla has been the scene of frequent anti-government protests
since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began
in March last year. The town has also become a hub for opposition
Syria's main opposition bloc put the toll at more than 100 and
urged the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to
examine the massacre.
"More than 110 people were killed (half of whom are children) by
the Syrian regime's forces", the Syrian National Council said in a
"Some of the victims were hit by heavy artillery while others,
entire families, were massacred," said the statement by Bassma
Kodmani, the council's head of foreign relations.
Videos posted online by activists showed more than a dozen bodies
lined up inside a room. They included about 10 children who were
covered with sheets that only showed their bloodied faces.
Amer al-Sadeq of the Syrian Revolution Co-ordinators Union blamed
the killings on Assad loyalists from surrounding villages who he
said "have been armed systematically by the regime since the
beginning of the uprising".
The Local Co-ordination Committees activist network said
government forces had shelled the town before "armed militias
slaughtered entire families in cold blood".
The latest flare-up of violence came as Ban Ki-moon, the United
Nations secretary-general, blamed the government for much of the
"unacceptable levels of violence and abuses" occurring every day
in the 14-month-long crisis in Syria.
In a report to the UN Security Council, Ban cited the government's
continued use of heavy weapons, reports of shelling and "a
stepped-up security crackdown by the authorities that has led to
massive violations of human rights by government forces and
Ban said there had only been "small progress" on implementing the
six-point joint UN-Arab League plan brokered by international
envoy Kofi Annan.
The UN chief called on the government to keep its pledge to
immediately stop the violence, pull heavy weapons and troops out
of populated areas, allow humanitarian workers to help civilians
in need and end human rights abuses.
Ban also called on all elements of the opposition to stop the
violence and respect human rights.
The secretary-general said 271 of 300 unarmed UN military
observers authorised by the council to help end the conflict were
on the ground.
Their deployment in key cities appeared to have had a "calming
effect", he said.
Nonetheless, "the overall level of violence in the country remains
quite high"' with daily incidents causing a large number of deaths
and injuries, though at a lower scale than immediately before
April 12 when a ceasefire was supposed to take effect.