A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network shows people watching the mass burial on May 26, 2012 of more than 100 victims killed in the central Syrian city of Houla in a massacre condemned by world leaders and described on May 28 by visiting UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan as “an appalling moment with profound consequences.” (AFP Photo/HO/Shaam News Network)
Damascus says a preliminary investigation showed armed groups carried out the Houla massacre. Earlier the government forces were blamed for the slaughter, which claimed lives of more than a hundred innocent citizens, including 32 children.
The report says that up to 800 rebel fighters were involved in mass killing in Houla, a cluster of villages in Syria’s western Homs province, on May 25.
General Qassem Jamal Suleiman, head of the investigation committee, said that there were families which “refused to oppose the government and were at odds with the armed groups”.
“Government forces did not enter the area where the massacre occurred, not before the massacre and not after it,”Suleiman said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the aim was to create sedition in Syria adding that people who are trying to “ignite civil strife, will not succeed.”
US representative in the United Nations Susan Rice has called Syria’s preliminary report on the Houla massacre “a blatant lie”.
The massacre, which became one the deadliest single events since the beginning of uprisings in March 2011, has triggered a worldwide reaction with Western countries accusing the Assad regime of being behind the bloodshed.
At the same time, the UN suspects fighters known as “shabiha” acting on behalf of Assad’s forces, stormed the villages, killing people.
On Friday the UN Human Rights Council will gather for a special session to address the massacre and present their findings. However, the information on which the UN body bases its conclusions and the way it was obtained raise questions.
Marinella Corregia, activist from the “No War Network,” told RT the UN body questioned opposition only whom they reached by phone.
Another activist Sara Flounders from the International Action Center says that it is likely that UN will give absolutely different version of that happened in Houla, “because the whole purpose of the UN – peace mission – from the beginning has been to give a diplomatic cover to continued intervention in Syria,” she told RT.
On Thursday Syrian Foreign Ministry reiterated its position saying it supports Kofi Annan’s peace plan, and called for the opposition groups that reject foreign intervention to negotiate.
Meanwhile, some countries, like France, push for military involvement to Syria, saying “Homs today is Benghazi yesterday.”
“I want what happened in Libya to be perceived as proof that foreign intervention is possible in Syria,” PresidentFrancois Hollande said on Wednesday.
Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders’ officAe also called for a foreign military presence in Syria. Country’s Defense Minister Pieter de Crem earlier said that his country would take part in any foreign force acting under a UN mandate.
On Wednesday the US said there is possibility that the Security Council members may consider acting outside the UN if the council does not take swift action to resolve the conflict. However, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice did not specify what “actions” she meant.
Russia has reiterated that it is against any military involvement in Syria. “The best way to avoid catastrophic scenarios is to try to implement the Kofi Annan plan,” Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said on Wednesday, adding that “the effort must be made by everybody.”
Lawrence Freeman from Executive Review magazine says “we are right on the verge of another responsibility to protect type intervention for regime change in Syria.”
The talk of tougher action without the UN Security Council sanction is a real threat to the Syrian regime, he warns. “Look what was done in Libya – we were told that there was about to be a massacre in Benghazi and Obama and Cameron and Sarkozy all united and it led to the overthrow of Gaddafi, which was the intension,” he told RT. “And they are willing to do the same thing.”
However, he believes that there is much more at stake in this conflict. “The point is not what they are trying to do in Libya or what they are trying to do in Syria – there are certain global empire forces that are playing a global game. And the global game is to force countries around the world to submit to their intimidations and to give up their sovereignty.”