The rebel Syrian National Council (SNC) has issued a statement claiming that the Assad regime is exclusively responsible for Friday’s deaths in the town of Houla, which it claims are now in excess of 110. They termed the killings a massacre and insisted all the dead were civilians.
The regime, for its part, denied military involvement in the deaths, saying that the troops in the Homs Province were pinned down inside their base for a nine hour gunbattle with attacking rebels at the time, and insisted that the Houla deaths were a “terrorist massacre.”
With no journalists on the ground exactly where the truth lies is anyone’s guess, but the initial reports were that the civilians were caught in the middle of the battle between rebels and regime forces, and it is only now that the toll has risen to such shocking levels that both sides are trying to blame the other exclusively.
The UN Security Council embraced the rebel version of events for the most part, condemning the deaths as a violation of the Syrian regime’s commitments to the ceasefire. The official statement was inconsistent, however, because while it began with references to long-range shelling, as with the rebel version, it later claimed that many of the civilians were shot by small arms at close range and that some were beaten to death. The rebel stories claimed that the regime never got close to the town, and that they bombarded it from a distance.
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