Bashar Assad
Bashar Assad Reuters

Syrian President Bashar Assad spoke on Sunday about the recent massacre that occurred in the country’s Houla region, and in which more than 100 civilians, including children, were killed. Assad made the comments in an address to the new Syrian parliament.

“What happened in Houla is a massacre that we have not seen even from monstrous predators,” said Assad, rejecting claims that his regime's military forces were responsible for the massacre.

“Terrorism affects us all, without exception,” he added. “What we stand in front of is a conspiracy of sedition, division and destruction of our country. The terrorism we are facing is a real war that has been imposed on us from the outside.”

Assad said, “I do not have a magic wand. We’ve offered all the solutions, but the terrorism has overcome us. There is a plot to overthrow Syria. We are in favor of pluralism, but not with anyone seeking to our harm national security.”

Assad has often claimed that “armed terror groups” were responsible for the daily killing of citizens in Syria.

A UN report on Houla last week fingered pro-government thugs known as shabiha, who often operate as hired enforcers for Assad's regime, as having carried out the massacre in Houla.

The report indicated that most of the dead were "killed execution-style, with fewer than 20 people cut down by regime shelling."

Shabiha thugs are known to frequently work closely with soldiers and security forces, but the regime never acknowledges their existence – allowing it to deny responsibility for their actions.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council called on Friday for an investigation into the massacre and condemned Syria for it.

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, a government investigation into the massacre blamed up to 800 rebel fighters for it. Qassem Jamal Suleiman, who headed the investigation, 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 on Friday 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. The Syrian rebels have been pressing Annan to formally announce his peace plan has failed - and to release the rebels from any commitment to honor the truce.