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Obama Adviser Rejects Syrian Claims on Houla Massacre as ‘a Lie’

President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser called Syrian claims that a weekend massacre in the Houla region was carried out by foreign-backed groups “a lie.”

Denis McDonough told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, today that the U.S. is working with “urgency” to increase pressure on the Syrian government. He rejected the government’s attempt to blame outsiders for the killings and repeated the U.S. stance that the regime of Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy.

“This is a lie,” McDonough said. “We know that the regime controls the actions” of vigilante groups.

According to United Nations estimates, the killings in the Houla region, in western Syria, left 108 people dead including 49 children.

“The longer this goes on, the more extreme it’s going to get and the greater negative impact it will have on the region and on our interests,” McDonough said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at

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