Nations expel Syrian diplomats after Houla massacre
Women, children executed and then laid in shallow graves
The United States, along with other nations have expelled Syrian
diplomats in response to a United Nations announcement that most of the
108 victims of the Houla massacre had been executed. The U.S. State
Department announced the expulsion of Charge d'Affaires Zuheir Jabbour,
an action mirrored by Australia, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom,
Italy, France and Germany.
The U.S. has not severed all diplomatic relations with Syria altogether. U.S. officials say that they did not oppose 'many civil service members of the Syrian government who are working to improve their country.'
Fewer than 20 of the victims died from artillery fire, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights declared. It was first thought the majority of the deaths were caused by artillery fire.
Syrian authorities have long blamed "terrorists" for the massacre. Houla was among the worst carnage in the 14-month-old uprising against Assad, which has cost about 10,000 lives.
The U.S. has rejected Syria's claims that terrorists were responsible for the massacre.
"We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives," a spokesman for State Department said in a statement. "We encourage all countries to condemn the actions of the Assad regime through similar action."
The U.S. has not severed all diplomatic relations with Syria altogether. U.S. officials say that they did not oppose "many civil service members of the Syrian government who are working to improve their country."
Spokesman for the UNHCR Rupert Colville told the journalists in Geneva that initial investigations suggest fewer than 20 of the victims in the village of Taldou, near Houla, were killed by artillery or tank fire.
"Most of the rest of the victims in Taldou," he told the BBC, "were summarily executed in two separate incidents." He added that most of the victims were shot at close range. "At this point it looks like entire families were shot in their houses," Colville was quoted as saying.
He said the conclusions of the U.N. monitors are corroborated by other sources, and that witnesses blamed pro-government militias for the attacks.
The findings came as U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan was meeting President Bashar Assad in Damascus this week.
The U.N. Security Council on Sunday unanimously condemned the Syrian government for heavy-weapons attacks on Houla.
"The Security Council condemned in the strongest possible terms the killings, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children and the wounding of hundreds more in the village of (Houla), near Homs, in attacks that involved a series of government artillery and tank shellings on a residential neighborhood," a non-binding statement said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded that those responsible for the massacre be brought to justice.
"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," she said.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Houla massacre, Syria, diplomacy, expulsion
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