Syrian activists are saying that more than 90 people were killed, 25 of whom were children, in the worst massacre since the U.N. ceasefire began in March.
Outside news agencies are not allowed in Syria, and the Syrian government-run SANA has been mum about the supposed attack, but activists are report news of the massacre and uploading raw video onto YouTube, showing bodies in the Houla area. The U.N. is working to confirm reports of the massacre, according to the AP.
The Daily Mail reports that Syrian troops used tanks, mortars, and heavy machine guns to pound the areas around Houla, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Co-ordination Committees.
Both of the rights groups initially stated that at least 50 people were killed in the Hom region, which is made up of many towns, according to The Daily Mail. Now, however, they estimate at least 88 are dead and 100 more wounded, making it the most deadly attack since UN Peacekeeper Kofi Annan declared a ceasefire in the unstable country.
The AP reports that a local activist they reached via Skype stated that the regime forces began the attack on Houla following an anti-regime demonstration, which took place after Friday’s Muslim prayers. The activist, who called himself Abu Yazan, stated:
“They killed entire families, from parents on down to children, but they focused on the children.”
Scott Bobb of VOA reported from northern Lebanon that tensions there are still running high. He stated:
“Historically, Syria has wielded a great deal of influence in Lebanon, its smaller neighbor, and even occupied it for years up until a few years ago. Although Syria did withdraw a few years ago, the influence is still there and it is resented by many people. In this particular case, in Tripoli, what happened was a Salafist sheikh, the Sunni Islamist, was killed at a checkpoint. He was known to be opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and this raised tensions with the local Allawite community, to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.”
The AP reports that Bassma Kodmani, who is of the exile opposition Syrian National Council, has stated:
“[The U.N. Security council needs] to examine the situation in Houla and to determine the responsibility of the United Nations in the face of such mass killings, expulsions and forced migration from entire neighborhoods.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, released an unusually harsh statement as well, stating that Arab nations and the international community are “partners” in this massacre, “because of their silence about the massacres that the Syrian regime has committed.”