Assad adds insult to injury: Forces shell Houla

The entire world condemned the massacre in Houla last week where 108 civilians - including 49 children and 34 women - were murdered at the hands of Assad's forces.

But Assad apparently has ignored the outrage; he's shelling Houla again.


Syrian forces Thursday shelled the central region of Houla where more than 100 people were massacred last week as a Syrian rebel commander says his forces will abandon a cease-fire agreement by Friday if government attacks do not stop.

Syrian rights activists said government troops fired shells and machine guns in Houla as residents fled, faring a repeat of a massacre that killed more than 100 civilians in an assault that continues to spark international outrage.

Damascus-based U.N. spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh told VOA that U.N. monitors based in nearby Homs city were traveling to Houla to verify the reports of renewed attacks.

In an Internet statement published Thursday, Free Syrian Army Colonel Qassim Saadeddine gave Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a deadline of noon Friday local time to start acting on commitments made to international peace envoy Kofi Annan.

The rebel commander said his forces would no longer be bound by the Annan peace plan if the Syrian president fails to comply.

The FSA is a loosely-organized and lightly-armed rebel group comprised largely of Syrian military defectors. The Syrian government and the rebels agreed to a truce mediated by Mr. Annan last month, but the fighting has continued, with each side accusing the other of violating the deal.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says "very strong opposition" from Russia is making it harder to put together an international coalition against President Assad. But, she says, Washington is not giving up on such a coalition, because "every day that goes by makes the case stronger."

The FSA wants Kofi Annan to swallow his pride and declare his pet peace plan a dead issue. Why declaring what is already obvious makes a difference, I don't know. Assad never took much notice of the peace plan to begin with so, in a way, declaring it dead is superfluous; it never had any life anyway.

There will be no solution to the Syrian mess without Russia. But there will be no Russian cooperation unless there is a guarantee that Assad remains in power. But if Assad remains in power, there will be no solution because the opposition refuses to talk to an Assad-led government.

And that, in a nutshell, is why the agony will continue.