THE UN peacekeeping chief said there were strong suspicions that pro-regime fighters were responsible for some of the 108 victims of a massacre in Syria.
Herve Ladsous said he has seen no reason to believe that “third elements”, or outside forces, were involved in one of the bloodiest single events in Syria’s 15-month-old uprising, though he did not rule it out, saying “we may learn more”.
The Syrian government has denied any responsibility for the massacre in Houla, blaming “armed terrorists”.
Mr Ladsous strongly disagreed.
“I am certainly saying that because people – civilians, children – were dramatically killed by heavy weapons, I am saying for this, undoubtedly, the government of Syria is responsible,” he said.
Mr Ladsous also pointed the finger at pro-government militias, known as shabiha.
He said: “There were strong suspicions that the shabihas were involved in this tragedy in Houla.”
But he added: “I cannot say that we have absolute proof.”
Mr Ladsous also pointed to the involvement of the shabiha in other attacks.
“There have been similarly very strong rumours in other places, in other instances of extreme violence, they were involved,” he said.
“When you look at the situation from the ground,” Mr Ladsous said, “You see a number, of course, of military and security forces who are in uniform, but you see also a substantial number of people who are dressed in civilian clothes yet are heavily armed with machine guns and all that.”
Syrian ambassadors in Germany, Italy and Spain are being expelled from the countries following similar moves by Britain, France, Australia and Canada.
The actions being taken increase pressure on Damascus after the massacre in Houla.