Assad, Annan Talk to Salvage Ceasefire
According to Al Jazeera, joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has held talks with Bashar al-Assad after the UN human rights office declared that more than 85 people who were killed in the Houla region were “summarily executed”. Annan “conveyed in frank terms his view to President Assad that the six point plan cannot succeed without bold steps to stop the violence and release detainees, and stressed the importance of full implementation of the plan,” his spokesman Ahmed Fawzi said. The UN discovered that most of the victims in Syria’s latest massacre “were shot at close range, [and] some of them women and children killed in their homes.”
Russia, among Syria’s staunchest allies, condemned the recent killings, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying, ”The [Syrian] government bears the main responsibility for what is going on. Any government in any country bears responsibility for the security of its citizens.” However, Lavrov added that both sides bear responsibility for some of the deaths since the beginning on the uprising. Meanwhile, the massacre prompted numerous countries to expel Syrian diplomats as well, including the United States, UK, Germany, Australia, Spain, Italy, Canada, and France.
Additionally, Ruth Sherlock details how Syrian security forces are using rape against both men and women as a tool to spread fear among the opposition, and Jastinder Khera attempts to account for the true number of those killed during the past 15 months.