Tuesday 17 October 2017

Syria accuses UN of 'tsunami of lies' over Houla massacre

Residents shout as they gather around a vehicle carrying United Nations observers in Houla, near Homs
Residents shout as they gather around a vehicle carrying United Nations observers in Houla, near Homs
Bodies of Syrians killed one day earlier being made ready for a mass funeral in Houla
Shrouded dead bodies after a Syrian government assault on Houla, Syria. Photo: AP

SYRIA’S ambassador to the United Nations hits out at "a tsunami of lies" after the Security Council condemn the country's government for a massacre in the town of Houla.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari denied his government had anything to do with the killings after the UN Security Council unanimously condemned President Bashar al-Assad's regime for the heavy-weapons attacks on the town, which reportedly left 108 people dead, many of them children.



Ja'afari dismissed what he termed as the "tsunami of lies" of the British, French and German envoys, who lined up to blame the Syrian government for the attack.



Earlier the council had issued a statement which was read out after a three-hour emergency meeting by Azerbaijan's deputy UN ambassador Tofig Musayev.



"The Security Council condemned in the strongest possible terms the killings, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children and the wounding of hundreds more in the village of (Houla), near Homs, in attacks that involved a series of government artillery and tank shellings on a residential neighbourhood," the non-binding statement said.



The head of the UN observer mission in Syria General Robert Mood briefed the 15-nation council on the massacre as he spoke via a video link from Damascus.



A letter to the Security Council from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also confirmed that UN observers had "viewed the bodies of the dead and confirmed from an examination of ordnance that artillery and tank shells were fired at a residential neighbourhood."



After the meeting, British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant pointed to the bombardment by government artillery and tanks as the cause of the killings.



"The Security Council has made it abundantly clear through its resolutions that there are no circumstances whatsoever that justify the use of heavy weapons and tanks against civilian population," he said.



"Those weapons and tanks should have been returned to their barracks months ago.



"So, it does not matter, to be honest, what the exact circumstances in the run up to this atrocity was. The fact is that it is an atrocity, and it was perpetrated by the Syrian government."



Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Alexander Pankin said Moscow was sceptical about suggestions that the Syrian government had been behind the massacre, saying it appeared most of the victims were killed with knives or shot at point-blank range.

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