Ban, Annan co…

Ban, Annan condemn Syria massacre

Skynews, Australia

UN leader Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan have condemned a massacre of more than 90 civilians inSyriaas a ‘brutal’ breach of international law by the government, a spokesman says.

Ban and Annan ‘condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children’ at Houla, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky on Saturday.

‘This appalling and brutal crime, involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force, is a flagrant violation of international law and of the commitments of the Syrian government to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and violence in all its forms.

‘Those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account,’ the UN secretary general and the special envoy added.

The UN mission said 92 bodies, 32 of them children aged less than 10, had been found in Houla after the artillery offensive.

Ban and Annan reaffirmed that UN observers who went to Houla had ‘viewed the bodies of the dead and confirmed from an examination of ordnance that artillery and tank shells were fired at a residential neighbourhood.’

The massacre will heighten the importance of a trip that Annan is to make to Syria in coming days. The UN Security Council is to discuss Syria on Wednesday.

Ban and Annan again demanded that President Bashar al-Assad end all violence in line with the six-point plan he agreed with the envoy.

‘The Joint Special Envoy is contacting the Syrian authorities to convey in the clearest terms the expectations of the international community, and he will also do so during his forthcoming visit to Syria,’ the UN statement said.

Comment: This certainly is a war crime, which has to be thoroughly investigated by the UN. Syrian government’s cooperation is absolutely necessary to prove or deny the fact, and the perpetrators must be punished. Otherwise al-Asad won’t have any chance to prove anything in that conflict.