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Syrian government denies involvement in Houla massacre

Published time: May 27, 2012 17:10
Edited time: May 28, 2012 05:26

Houla: A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows UN observers inspecting the bodies of 92 victims at a hospital morgue before their burial in the central Syrian town of Houla on May 26, 2012 (AFP Photo / Shaam News network)

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Damascus has refuted accusations of being behind a ruthless attack in Houla where over 90 civilians were killed. Political analyst Ibrahim Alloush told RT those killed were actually Assad loyalists, and the timing is suspicious.

­Friday's attack in the Governorate of Homs has risen already-high tensions in Syria, with many in the international community quick to point fingers at Assad's forces.

Public anxiety was fueled by numerous amateur videos from Houla posted to YouTube showing dozens of bodies, including many women and children.

Although the videos were widely distributed by the media, the source could not be independently verified.

Damascus condemned the attack Saturday, saying it had no involvement in the massacre, and accused “terrorist” groups of being behind it.

The authorities also announced an investigation into the incident.

‘Those killed were loyal to Assad’

Political analyst Ibrahim Alloush told RT that the way the attack was done and its timing “make it obvious” that Damascus is not responsible.

“It would not make sense for the Syrian army to commit these massacres and withdraw, and then just let the rebels come and take photos and make documentaries about them,” he explained.

Alloush believes the crimes were committed “by the armed gangs supported from abroad, from the GCC countries and from the NATO specifically through Turkey.”

The analyst insists that the massacre in Houla was carried out in the context of a broad attack throughout the area.

“They also attacked the national hospital in the region and they set fire to it. Then they turned to civilian houses in some of the neighboring villages and they started killing indiscriminately,” he said, emphasizing that among those killed  were people loyal to Assad.

Alloush also said that the timing of the attack makes it look suspicious.

“These crimes have come at a point when a political solution has slated for the Syrian question, and these people do not want to see a political solution – instead they want to see an armed intervention, an international foreign intervention in Syria under pretext of massacres,” he concluded.

One should ask: cui prodest?

­Marinella Correggia, an ecopeace activist and journalist, says many facts that cast doubt on claims that Syrian government forces were behind the massacre.

First of all, the victims in the various online videos of the massacre appear to have been killed at close range and not as a result of artillery strikes.

The children don’t seem to be the victims of shelling or artillery, but of direct killings from a short distance,” she told RT. “Therefore it doesn’t seem possible to make a connection between the accusations by the opposition that the army attacked Houla with heavy weapons and the way the children were murdered.

Secondly, Correggia points to the fact that some of the videos actually provide erroneous information.

One of the videos on YouTube in Spanish says 'Assad bands killed children in Hula,' but in fact shows images of children in houses that SANA and Press TV say were killed by armed groups of the opposition in other villages.

Correggia also said it's very difficult to understand who the people carrying out the massacre were. The fact that most killers wear ski masks over their faces makes it impossible for witnesses and survivors to give correct testimonials on exactly who these people are and who hired them.

She said the mainstream media were quick to jump to conclusions without considering all the facts.

Although the head of the UN observer mission, General Robert Mood, did not attribute the massacre to anybody yet, and asked both government forces and the opposition to refrain from any form of violence, some mainstream media blamed the government, saying it was the UN that pointed the figure at the regime,” she noted.

Correggia said it was almost impossible that the government would carry out such a massacre.

One should ask: cui prodest (who profits?),” she stressed. “Massacres happen right before either a Security Council meeting, like in the February Homs massacre, or before or during Kofi Annan’s visits, or after some military defeats.  Therefore it seems to me almost impossible that government could order or give a green light to it.

She expressed her belief that it was likely that massacres such as the one that happened in Houla were more likely a product of unbridled sectarian violence.

According to some witnesses, the massacre was perpetrated by armed gangs who assaulted the hospital and killed people. Vox Clamantis, an information center of the Catholic Church in the Homs Governorate, also reports many cases of families being killed in other villages, where in the absence of the army there is violence going on for sectarian reasons. I tend to believe this version. And it will be harder and harder to see who the armed killers are, and where the difference between ordinary and political violence is.

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