UAE calls for urgent Arab League meeting over ‘Houla massacre’ in Syria
The United Arab Emirates called on Saturday for an urgent meeting of the Arab League to discuss a response to “al-Houla massacre” which claimed the lives of nearly 100 civilians, including dozens of children.
“The targeting of the civilians could not be condoned as it is a violation to our humanity, and signifies the tragic failure of our collective Arab and international efforts to put an end to the violence against the civilians in Syria,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in a statement carried by the state news agency WAM.
“Our Arab and Islamic ethics do not allow this criminal mass killing, and we must as a nation proud of its values to intervene to protect the innocents in Syria,” he added.
The agency reported that Sheikh Abdulah had phoned U.N. special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan and Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi.
“The UAE has sent a request to the Secretary-General of the Arab League to convene an urgent meeting on this matter,” WAM added.
Britain said it was in urgent talks with allied countries on “a strong international response” while France said it was making plans to host a “Friends of Syria” meeting in the wake of the latest deadly violence.
The U.N. mission chief in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, condemned what he described as a “brutal tragedy” in Houla, where he said the bodies of victims had been counted.
“Those using violence for their own agendas will create more instability, more unpredictability and may lead the country to civil war,” he told reporters in Damascus, describing the violence as “indiscriminate and disproportionate.”
Amateur videos posted on YouTube, apparently from Houla in Homs province, showed horrifying images of children lying dead on a floor. Some were badly mangled, with at least one child’s head partly blown away.
“We are consulting urgently with our allies on a strong international response, including at the U.N. Security Council, the EU and U.N. human rights bodies,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.
London would seek an urgent session of the Security Council in coming days, in response to “credible and horrific reports that a large number of civilians have been massacred” by Syrian forces in Houla.
“Our urgent priority is to establish a full account of this appalling crime and to move swiftly to ensure that those responsible are identified and held to account,” Hague said.
The Syrian regime must cease all military operations in accordance with a peace plan brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, and to allow monitors “full and immediate access” to Houla and other conflict areas, Hague added.
The rebel Free Syrian Army said after the killings that it was no longer committed to the U.N.-backed peace plan for Syria unless there was prompt U.N. intervention to protect civilians.