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

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
News
i100
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
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

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little