United Nations: The United Nations led calls for urgent international action on Syria after reports of a horrific massacre by regime forces that left 92 people dead, more than a third of them children.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan jointly condemned the "appalling and brutal crime," which involved "indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force," and was "a flagrant violation" of international law and commitments by Syria's government not to use heavy weapons or violence.
"Those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account," the UN chief and Annan said on Saturday. The UN mission said 92 bodies, 32 of them children aged less than 10, had been counted in the central Syrian town of Houla after reports of an artillery bombardment by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
The offensive resulted in one of the bloodiest episodes since his regime launched a brutal crackdown on opponents in March last year that has left thousands dead. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the deaths an "atrocity" and said Washington would work with the international community to heap pressure on "Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end."        

"Those who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account," she said in a statement. Britain said it was in urgent talks with allied countries on "a strong international response" while France said it was making plans to host a "Friends of Syria" meeting in the wake of the latest deadly violence.
The UN mission chief in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, condemned what he described as a "brutal tragedy" in Houla. "Those using violence for their own agendas will create more instability, more unpredictability and may lead the country to civil war," he told reporters in Damascus, describing the violence as "indiscriminate and disproportionate."
Amateur videos posted on YouTube, apparently from Houla in Homs province, showed horrifying images of children lying dead on a floor. Some were badly mangled, with at least one child's head partly blown away.
"We are consulting urgently with our allies on a strong international response, including at the UN Security Council, the EU and UN human rights bodies," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.


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