Annan arrives in Damascus while Security Council condemns Syria over Houla massacre

Annan arrives in Damascus while Security Council condemns Syria over Houla massacre

Damascus : Syria | May 28, 2012 at 6:20 AM PDT
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Syria says it will comply with truce deadline

International envoy Kofi Annan arrived Monday in Syria to take up the settlement plan for Syria with the government and the opposition.

It is Annan’s second visit to Syria since the start of his mission three months ago.

International envoy Kofi Annan is expected to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, a U.N. source told dpa news.

Speaking to reporters at a Damascus hotel, Annan described the Houla massacre on Friday and Saturday as “an appalling moment with profound consequences," Alarabiya news reported.

At least 116 people, including 49 children and 34 women, were killed and over 300 were wounded in the massacre.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council on Sunday condemned "in the strongest terms possible" the Syrian government's massacre of Hula in which 116 people were killed. Russia has in turn expressed earlier in the day doubt about the responsibility of Damascus for this massacre.

According to AFP news, the Security Council held the meeting on Sunday to hear a briefing on the massacre from the head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria, Major General Robert Mood via videoconference.

The 15 Council members, including Russia, condemned the attacks "involving a series of bombardments by government tanks and artillery against a residential area," in a joint statement which called on President Bashar Assad to withdraw heavy weapons from all Syrian cities.

The Hula massacre, occurred on late Friday night, has provoked an international outcry, which has not prevented Moscow to defend the Syrian regime. Russia, speaking through its Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.N., Igor Pankin, has questioned the responsibility of the Syrian authorities. "We must establish whether it is the Syrian authorities" who are responsible, he told reporters. He said that "the majority" of the victims killed in Hula were stabbed or "executed at close range," contradicting earlier reports of gunfire.

For his part, General Mood, chief of U.N. observers in Syria, said the victims were hit by "shrapnel" or killed by "point blank," diplomats conveyed.

Moreover, the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jafari has said that his government condemns the recent tragedy in the Houla village.

But at the same time, he criticized the wording of a United Nations Security Council statement on Houla massacre.

Jafari said the civilians were killed by small arms and cold steel, rather than artillery fire.

Earlier, the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jihad Makdissi denied completely "any governmental responsibility for this terrorist massacre that targeted civilians."

Damascus has announced the creation of a joint inquiry of the army and justice ministry into the violence, the worst since the entry into force of the April 12 cease-fire under the plan of International envoy Kofi Annan. The commission will publish its findings within 72 hours.

Syria's state media Sunday said that groups linked to al-Qaida were behind the massacre of Houla.

"Terrorist groups from al-Qaida committed two heinous massacres against families in Houla," the state news agency SANA said, quoting an unnamed official in the area.

In related news, the New York Times has reported that the U.S. president Barack Obama raised the prospect of a Yemen-style handover of power in Syria at the recent G8 summit in Camp David.

According to the paper, Obama posited to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev the idea of a handover of power from the crisis-hit regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The paper reported that Obama's national security advisor, Thomas E. Donilon, also raised such a plan with Vladimir Putin in Moscow three weeks ago, and that Obama will raise it with Putin at their meeting next month - the first since Putin was re-elected to the presidency.

For more analysis please refer the following link:,7340,L-4234775,00.html


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Annan arrives to Damascus while Security Council condemns Syria over Houla massacre
Bodies in Houla . Reuters
saleh1966 is based in Gaza, Ġazzah, Palestine, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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