Washington, May 29 - The international community is ramping up pressure on the Assad regime in Syria after the government was blamed for killing 108 civilians including scores of children last week, many of them summarily executed, in the central town of Houla.
France, Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia and Canada expelled the Syrian ambassadors to their countries after the UN said that many of the victims, who included 49 children and 34 women, were summarily executed. The Syrian government continues to maintain that “terrorists” were behind the massacre.
Gruesome images of bloodied corpses streamed out of Syria Saturday, triggering worldwide condemnation and highlighting the failure of a six-week-old United Nations ceasefire plan to stop the government’s killings that have left 11,000 people dead, according to opposition groups.
The UN Security Council in an emergency meeting on Sunday slammed the "outrageous use of force against (the) civilian population,” while European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned the "heinous act perpetrated by the Syrian regime against its own civilian population" in a statement on Sunday.
In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed in a statement Sunday his "revulsion over the ongoing massacre being perpetrated by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad against innocent civilians, which continued over the weekend in Houla and included dozens of innocent children."
"Iran and Hezbollah are an inseparable part of the Syrian atrocities and the world needs to act against them," Netanyahu added.
Defense minister Ehud Barak went further, calling for a world intervention to halt the violence.
“The massacre perpetrated by the Assad regime in Houla and the murder of children, women and elderly over the past year obligates the world to intervene," Barak said. "The barbaric crimes that Assad's regime commits and the support it enjoys from Iran and Hezbollah, obligate the world to act to stop it."
Netanyahu and Barak’s words mark the toughest rhetoric Israel has leveled at Syria since street demonstrations began last March. The Jewish State has had to walk a diplomatic tightrope in dealing with the Syrian government’s crackdown. The two countries are technically at war, and the Iran-backed Assad regime has hinted in the past that it might use an attack or other provocation of Israel to divert world attention from its internal troubles.