U.N. Security Council meets on Syria massacre, Russia skeptical

UNITED NATIONS Sun May 27, 2012 3:10pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council met on Sunday to discuss the recent massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, which the United Nations has blamed on the Syrian government but Damascus and Moscow suggested was due to a rebel attack.

At least 116 people, including many children, were killed in the Houla attack, the head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria General Robert Mood told the 15-nation council, according to a diplomat who was in the closed-door meeting. The diplomat spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Russian Deputy U.N. Ambassador Alexander Pankin told reporters Moscow was skeptical about suggestions that the government was behind the massacre, saying it appeared most of the victims were killed with knives or shot at point-blank range.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, however, disagreed.

"It seems quite clear that the massacre in Houla was caused by heavy bombardment, by government artillery and tanks," Lyall Grant said ahead of the meeting.

Diplomats said they hoped to agree on some kind of condemnation of the massacre, though Russia was clearly at odds with the Western powers regarding who was to blame.

The emergency council meeting was called after Russia rejected a French and British proposal for a statement condemning the massacre, diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

Moscow, which remains a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told other members of the 15-nation council that it wanted briefing from Mood before agreeing to a statement, envoys said.

Mood spoke to the Security Council via a videolink from Damascus.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Philip Barbara)

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Comments (2)
neahkahnie wrote:
Are the Russians suggesting that the rebels/insurgents/Freedom Fighters/etc. have the same heavy artillery that the Assad regime has?

May 27, 2012 4:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
WJL wrote:

Read the article please. Most of the deaths were by knives and shot at pint blank. This is a serious gross human rights issue as innocents are being massacred as part of a propaganda campaign against the Syrian government. The British ambassador must state the basis of his disagreement. A medical examination by a panel of impartial doctors appointed by the UN sis in order. The instigators of such crimes must be brought to justice in an international court.

May 27, 2012 5:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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