Sunday, June 3, 2012

Assad denies role in Houla massacre

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has denied his government's forces had any role in the Houla massacre.

More than 100 people, many of them children, were killed in the attack overnight between 25 and 26 May, most knifed or shot at close range.

Mr Assad described the killings as an "ugly crime" that even "monsters" would not carry out.

Addressing parliament, he blamed "foreign meddling" for Syria's divisions.

"What happened in Houla and elsewhere (in Syria) are brutal massacres which even monsters would not have carried out," he said in the televised address.

UN investigators have said most of the dead were summarily executed, and eyewitnesses had said pro-government militias had carried out most of the killings.

The massacre has triggered international condemnation and led to several countries expelling Syrian diplomats in protest.

'Red line'

Mr Assad again blamed "terrorists", supported by foreign powers, for fomenting discord and creating "a project of... dissent" inside the country.

He said Syria was "facing attempts to weaken Syria, breach its sovereignty".

The only way to resolve the crisis, he said, was through political dialogue. But he said he would not negotiate with those who, he said, did not represent the will of the Syrian people. Read More