Daily Israel Report

UNHRC Condemns Syria for Houla Massacre

UN Human Rights Council condemns Syria for the Houla massacre, calls an investigation into the killing of more than 100 civilians.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 6/1/2012, 11:07 PM

Aftermath of Houla massacre
Aftermath of Houla massacre
Reuters

The UN Human Rights Council called on Friday for an investigation into the killing of more than 100 civilians in the Houla region of Syria, and condemned Syria for the massacre.

According to a report in the BBC, the forum passed the resolution with a big majority and called on investigators to identify the perpetrators. Evidence could potentially be used in future criminal prosecutions, the report said.

The UN Human Rights Council, the world's top human rights body, met on Friday in emergency session - the fourth time it has done so to discuss Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

In the vote, 41 members voted in favor of the resolution condemning Syria, while Russia, China and Cuba voted against it. Two other countries abstained and one was absent.

The resolution also specifies that there should be an “international, transparent, independent and prompt investigation” into the massacre.

On Thursday, Syria blamed up to 800 rebel fighters for the massacre in Houla. The accusations starkly contradicted accounts of witnesses cited by UN investigators who blamed “shabiha”, the gunmen who operate on behalf of President Bashar Assad's regime, for the massacre in the Houla region.

Facing international outrage over the killings, Damascus launched its own investigation into the deaths. At a news conference, Qassem Jamal Suleiman, who headed the government's investigation into the massacre, categorically denied any regime role. He claimed that hundreds of rebel gunmen carried out the slaughter, after launching a coordinated attack on five security checkpoints.

The UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, said he was frustrated at the continued violence despite the acceptance by all sides of his six-point peace plan, under which a ceasefire came into force in April.

Earlier, the head of the Free Syrian Army pressed Annan to formally announce his peace plan has failed - and to release the rebels from any commitment to honor the truce.

Colonel Riad Al Asaad, who is based in Turkey, also contradicted a statement by the rebels inside Syria who issued President Bashar Assad an ultimatum to abide by the conditions of Annan’s plan by noon on Friday.

“There is no deadline, but we want Kofi Annan to issue a declaration announcing the failure of this plan so that we would be free to carry out any military operation against the regime,” Asaad told Al Jazeera television.

Meanwhile, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said the killings in Houla may amount to crimes against humanity.

She urged the international community to “make all efforts to end impunity” and “ensure accountability for perpetrators" of such “atrocities,” the BBC quoted her as having said.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)