Syrian government denies responsibility

The Syrian government denied on Sunday its troops were behind an attack on a string of villages that left more than 90 people dead, blaming the killings on “hundreds of heavily-armed gunmen” who also attacked soldiers in the area.

Friday's assault on Houla, an area northwest of the central city of Homs, was one of the bloodiest single events in Syria's 15-month-old uprising. The U.N. says 32 children under the age of 10 were among the dead. The international body and others have issued statements appearing to hold the Syrian regime responsible, but all stopped well short of suggesting intervention.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told a Damascus news conference that Syria is being subjected to a “tsunami of lies” on Houla.

“We categorically deny the responsibility of government forces for the massacre,” Mr. Makdissi said.

The Houla attacks sparked outrage from American and other international leaders, and renewed concerns about the relevance of a month-old international peace plan that has not stopped almost daily violence.

U.N. observers, among more than 250 who were dispatched in recent weeks to try to salvage the cease-fire plan, found spent artillery and tank shells at the site on Saturday a finding which could point toward the government's heavily-armed mechanised units. .

Nearly 10,000 have been killed since a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime began last year.


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