UN Envoy Prepares to Meet Syrian President after Massacre

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Two days after dozens of civilians were killed in the Syrian town of Houleh, United Nations envoy Kofi Annan expressed his horror at the incident while visiting Syria. The UN Security Council condemned the brutality, which involved artillery shelling of a residential neighborhood by government forces. More than 90 people—including a number of children—were killed and hundreds wounded.

A Security Council press statement posted to the UN’s website said the powerful world body condemned the “outrageous use of force” against civilians. Annan, in a press release on his website, responded similarly.

“I am personally shocked and horrified by the tragic incident in Houleh two days ago, which took so many innocent lives, children, women and men. This was an appalling crime, and the Security Council has rightly condemned it,” said the UN envoy upon arriving in Damascus.

“…It is the Syrian people, ordinary citizens of this great country, who are paying the highest price in this conflict. Our goal is to stop this suffering. It must end and it must end now.”

Annan, the author of a six-point plan for ending the 14-month conflict in the country, called upon the Syrian government to “take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully.” Among other things, the regime is expected to withdraw heavy weapons from population centers.

The brutal government crackdown of what began as a peaceful protest against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule has moved towards civil war. So far, thousands of civilians have been killed by the regime—with the Houleh massacre just a bloody reminder of the growing death toll. Annan noted his “message of peace” is not only for the government, but “for buy viagra without presc everyone with a gun.”

Nonetheless, the government has been strongly condemned by the West for it’s vicious actions against its own civilians, and Annan said he planned to have “serious and frank discussions” with President Assad.

Global Condemnation

Annan said the UN Security Council has asked the UN to continue its investigation into the Houleh carnage. “Those responsible for these brutal crimes must be held accountable. I understand that the [Syrian] Government is also investigating.”

That same Syrian government received condemnation from multiple directions for the killings. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a press release, “I condemn in the strongest terms this heinous act perpetrated by the Syrian regime against its own civilian population, despite the agreed ceasefire and presence of UN observers.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a press statement, reiterated their call for Assad to step aside. “Those who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account. And the United States will work with the international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end.”

Syria’s neighbor Israel also condemned the killings, with statements coming from both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. In a press release from his office, Barak was quoted as saying, “Israel supports the UN Security Council’s condemnation of the atrocities in Syria. The pictures of the children’s mutilated bodies are both shocking and disturbing. We call upon the nations of the world to unite and act immediately to stop the ongoing massacre of innocents.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 28, 2012)