Moscow: Russia on Wednesday called for an "objective and impartial" UN-led probe into last week's massacre in the Syrian city of Houla that killed 108 people and left some 300 wounded.
   
"At this stage, there should be an objective and impartial investigation conducted under the auspices of the UN monitoring mission in Syria," the foreign ministry said in a statement after telephone talks between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and international peace envoy Kofi Annan.
   
The statement said Lavrov had told Annan "the tragedy in Houla underscored that all the sides in Syria must immediately renounce violence in order to avoid a repeat of such incidents again."
   
It also reaffirmed Russia's backing of Annan's six-point peace initiative and stressed that the attack proved the need for its urgent implementation rather than the search for other solution potentially involving outside force.
   
"It was especially noted that all the foreign players must push the Syrians toward the start of full-fledged political dialogue," the foreign ministry said.
   
Lavrov had yesterday conceded that the Syrian government bore the brunt of responsibility for the Houla tragedy while also placing some of the blame on the rebels.
   
Moscow had earlier vetoed two rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against its regional ally and been reluctant to explicitly condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
   
The Russian statement today insisted that Arab and Western states had to continue putting more pressure on the opposition to engage in direct talks. But it also expressed "deep concern" about what happened in Houla.

(Agencies)

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