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Shelling of Houla resumes as regime blames 'terrorists'

SYRIAN regime forces resumed their bombardment of Houla yesterday, even as a government spokesman claimed that "terrorists" were responsible for the massacre of more than 100 people including women and children at the weekend.

Residents said shelling had resumed on Wednesday night and regime forces were also using sniper fire on residents. Activists posted a video online showing the bleeding body of a 14-year-old boy, named as Oday Abdulhakim al-Saleh, who they said was shot dead yesterday morning.

"We are being shelled," an anti-government activist in the town, who gave his name as Saria al-Houlany, said by Skype. "The attack started last night and has carried on since early morning. All of the city is being bombarded, including where the massacre took place."

The United Nations, whose observers visited Houla after the killings on Friday night, said at least 108 people died, including 34 women and 49 children. They said the majority had been shot dead, with some bodies showing knife wounds. The rest were killed by shell-fire from artillery and tanks not available to the opposition.

Residents say the gangs who moved in after the initial bombardment were Shabiha or pro-government militias. There has been sporadic shooting at the town in the days since. "The people in the neighbouring village of Waer can see the missiles crossing and landing in Houla," the activist said.

"Some of the people who were saved from the massacre have fled the city, but some of them are hiding in field hospitals and clinics.

"The regime does not want any witnesses left alive for the horrible massacres it committed." The weekend attack was triggered by an assault on army positions by the Free Syrian Army.

The Syrian authorities blamed "armed gangs and terrorists". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent