90 dead in Syrian massacre - mostly children
The government of President Assad is telling the Syrian people that the violence that killed 90 citizens was the result of "terrorist gangs." The opposition says it was the Syrian army shelling a small town indiscriminately.
In the end, dead is dead. And Assad's bloody fingerprints are all over this one.
A member of the fragmented exile group that says it speaks for Syria's political opposition said Assad's forces had killed "entire families" in Houla in addition to the shelling.
"The Syrian National Council (SNC) urges the U.N. Security Council to call for an emergency meeting ... and to determine the responsibility of the United Nations in the face of such mass killings," SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani said.
Opposition activists said Syrian forces had opened fire with artillery on Friday after skirmishing with insurgents in Houla, a cluster of villages north of the city of Homs, itself battered by shelling.
Although Annan's six-week old ceasefire plan has failed to stop the violence, the United Nations is nearing full deployment of a 300-strong unarmed observer force meant to monitor a truce.
The plan also calls for a truce, withdrawal of troops from cities and dialogue between the government and opposition.
Fabius said that "U.N. observers need to be able to complete their mission and the U.N.-Arab League's joint special envoy's exit plan has to be implemented immediately".
The state news agency SANA said the observers had visited Houla on Saturday, but did not elaborate. A spokeswoman for the monitoring mission did not respond to calls.
The new French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius wants a meeting of the "Friends of Syria" in Paris. The group of about 80 countries hasn't done much of anything yet so it begs the question why bother. No one wants to send troops. Few want to send heavy arms to the Free Syrian Army, fearing they will fall into the hands of Islamists.The UN monitors are apparently out to lunch.
So for the moment, everyone will pretend that the UN's cease fire is still viable and urge the parties to negotiate. The monitors will keep monitoring the killing, the western nations will continue to condemn Assad, and Obama - no doubt in between rounds of golf - will say it's time for Assad to go.
It's a broken record - we've heard it all before. But until someone comes up with a brilliant idea to resolve the situation, it's all we're likely to hear for the foreseeable future.