A bloody new chapter was written in Syria’s political and humanitarian crisis as pro-government forces attacked the small town of Houla on May 25. Reports said at least 108 people were killed, 30 of them children, leading to the horrific photograph below that has shocked the world. Witnesses report gunmen going from home to home in rebel neighborhoods, breaking down doors and shooting civilians.
In the wake of the massacre, governments around the world are expelling Syrian diplomats from their borders. The move is a coordinated effort to put pressure on the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Latitude News has collected eight links with more info on this developing story:
1. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Syrian Embassy in Canberra is empty, with Australian police keeping watch outside. The Syrians have been given 72 hours to leave the country.
2. France, Britain, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Spain have also told Assad’s ambassadors to get out, according to The Christian Science Monitor. “Bashar al-Assad is the murderer of his people,” said French foreign minister Laurent Fabius. “He must relinquish power. The sooner the better.”
3. The Associated Press is now reporting that the Obama Administration has made a similar move and asked Syria’s representative, Zuheir Jabbour, to leave the US.
4. It’s still not quite clear what happened in Houla, a small village near the city of Hama, where Assad’s father, Hafez, murdered tens of thousands in 1982. You can read one account from The Toronto Star here.
5. The UN Human Rights Office released a statement saying 90 of those killed in Houla were executed by small-arms fire.
6. In a face-to-face meeting with Assad, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan strongly condemned the Syrian government.
7. Assad’s major allies, Russia and China, have decided not to take diplomatic action. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, blamed “both sides” for the tragedy.
8. Meanwhile, China criticized the “cruel killings” of civilians but did not single out Assad’s forces for blame.