Syrian troops shell massacre site

 

Syrian troops today shelled the central region of Houla where more than 100 people were massacred last week, activists said.

At least one person was killed in the latest violence and scores fled in fear of more government attacks.

The shelling came as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria to stop its attacks, saying UN observers monitoring the ceasefire were not there to watch the killings of innocent people.

Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army group of army defectors warned the Syrian government that if it does not abide by the UN plan by ceasing fire and pulling out troops from residential areas by noon tomorrow, the group will defend the people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Co-ordination Committees activist groups said government troops unleashed heavy machine guns but also used mortars in Houla, a collection of poor farming villages in the central Homs province. A young man was killed by sniper fire.

Survivors of the Houla massacre have blamed pro-regime gunmen for at least some of carnage that began on Friday and left 108 people dead, many of them children and women. The Syrian government denied its troops were behind the killings and blamed "armed terrorists."

The Houla massacre was one of the deadliest incidents since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime started in March last year. The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed in the past 15 months while activists put the number at about 13,000.

The Observatory reported that Houla residents were fleeing today to nearby towns and villages "fearing a new massacre."

In the wake of last week's massacre, the United States, Western and Asian nations expelled Syrian diplomats in protest.

Mr Ban, speaking in Istanbul, was referring about the nearly 300 UN observers who were deployed around Syria to monitor a ceasefire that went into effect on April 12, as part of an international peace plan negotiated by international envoy Kofi Annan. Despite the ceasefire violence continued almost daily.

Although the Free Syria Army claims that it has so far been abiding by Annan's plan, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said gunmen have violated the ceasefire more than 3,500 times.

Also today, Syria's state-run TV said that 500 people who had got involved in recent events in Syria have been released from detention.

In Damascus, the Syria International Islamic Bank, or SIIB, criticised the latest sanctions imposed yesterday by the Obama administration as "irrational and unjustified."

The Treasury Department said yesterday that SIIB has been acting as a front for other Syrian financial institutions seeking to circumvent sanctions. The new penalties will prohibit the bank from engaging in financial transactions in the US.

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that those responsible for the Houla massacre should be punished, in unusually harsh criticism from a staunch ally.

Mr Ahmadinejad declined to say in an interview with the France 24 television station who he believed was behind the attack, but added: "It seems unbelievable to me that a government would engage in killing its own people .... (but) I'm not excluding anyone from this responsibility," he said.

"We (in Iran) are quite disappointed about this," he said from Tehran through a translator. "Any individual who committed these murders is guilty ... The people responsible for this massacre must be punished, must be sanctioned."

Every day of slaughter in Syria is strengthening the case for tougher international action, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. But she stressed that military intervention would need international support, including from Syrian ally Russia.

Speaking to Danish university students, Mrs Clinton noted that UN and international backing made possible last year's international coalition against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya but that Russia and China are standing in the way of similar action in Syria. She also suggested that a military effort against Mr Assad's regime would be far more difficult.

Asked when the US might opt for a military option, Mrs Clinton said: "Every day that goes by makes the argument for it stronger," even if Moscow in particular remained unconvinced. She said Washington would continue pressing its case to Russia, which has promised to block any moves at the United Nations to obtain a military mandate for intervention.

AP

Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sport
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
tech
News
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis