27 May 2012

Syrian children victims of 'indiscriminate' killing

9:59 pm on 27 May 2012

The United Nations and world leaders have condemned the latest violence in Syria that killed scores of people including many children.

UN observers visited the town Houla on Saturday and counted 92 bodies, including more than 32 under the age of 10, UN head of mission Major General Robert Mood said.

Footage uploaded to YouTube showed the bodies of many children killed either by shelling or shooting, purportedly carried out by Syrian government troops.

Syrian state television aired some of the footage disseminated by activists after the killing in Houla, calling the bodies victims of a massacre committed by terrorist gangs.

Major General Mood said monitors could confirm the use of small arms, machine gun, artillery and tanks and called the killing "indiscriminate and unforgivable".

"Whoever started, whoever responded and whoever carried out this deplorable act of violence should be held responsible."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks and said the US would work with the international community to intensify pressure on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded that the government of Syria immediately cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres.

Britain, France, Germany, the EU and Arab League have also condemned the massacre.

The shelling of Houla by regime forces began at about midday on Friday and continued until dawn on Saturday, the UK-based opposition group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

This is one of the worst attacks since the start of the six week old UN brokered ceasefire plan in April.

The opposition Free Syrian Army said it could no longer commit to the ceasefire unless the Security Council could ensure that civilians are protected.

The UN says at least 10,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011.