Syria ‘Massacre’ Needs International Response, U.K. Says

The U.K. is calling for a “strong international response” following reports of a massacre of civilians by Syrian forces in a town in Homs province.

More than 90 adults and children were killed during shelling and shootings by government forces in Houla in the past 24 hours, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mailed statement. Explosions were also heard in the city of Homs, it said. British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the killings “an appalling crime” and said the U.K. would be calling for an “urgent” meeting of the UN Security Council.

“There are credible and horrific reports that a large number of civilians have been massacred at the hands of Syrian forces in the town of Houla, including children,” Hague said in an e-mailed statement today. “We are consulting urgently with our allies on a strong international response, including at the UN Security Council, the EU and UN Human Rights bodies.”

More than 9,000 people have been slain by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s forces since March 2011, when protests began as part of the wave of uprisings in the Middle East, according to a UN estimate in late March. Violence continues almost two months after Assad and opposition forces accepted a peace plan by UN special envoy Kofi Annan.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there has been “some reduction in the intensity of fighting” in areas of Syria where there are UN observers.

Peace Plan

“That said, the overall level of violence in the country remains quite high” and the Syrian government isn’t implementing the UN peace plan, Ban said in a report yesterday to the Security Council.

He said there has been little progress in implementing the six-point plan that Assad agreed to with Annan.

“Measured against the commitments embodied in the six-point plan, the overall situation remains extremely serious and there has been only small progress on some issues,” Ban said. “There is a continuing crisis on the ground, characterized by regular violence, deteriorating humanitarian conditions, human rights violations, and continued political confrontation.”

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