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Syrian massacre in Houla

The village of Taldou, near the town of Houla, has been the site of one of the worst massacres on Friday, when 108 people were killed - most of which women and children.

Anti-government activists, eyewitnesses and human rights groups (including the UN's high commissioner for human rights) believe the Syrian army and the shabiha (a sectarian civilian militia that supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad) were responsible for the attacks. The UN Secretary General has stated, "This terrible and revolting crime, in which indiscriminate and disproportionate force was used, is a flagrant violation of international law and commitments made by the Syrian government to cease its use of heavy weapons in cities." In Damascus, General Robert Mood, the UN Chief Observer, has also condemned "the brutal tragedy." Kofi Annan is in Damascus to meet with President Bashar al-Assad and press for the end of violence by all sides to prevent the possible outbreak of a sectarian civil war.

The Houla massacre brings to mind several other massacres that have occurred in direct response to civil unrest. The My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War was the mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnamby United States Army soldiers on March 16, 1968. During the Lebanese civil war, between September 16th and 18th, Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia claimed the lives of 762 to 3,500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in the Sabraand Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in BeirutLebanon. In July 1995 during the Bosnian War, the Srebrenica massacre (also known as the Srebrenica genocide) saw the killing of more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by units of the Army of Republika Srpska(VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladić.

 

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