This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network taken Saturday, May 26, 2012, purports to show shrouded dead bodies following a Syrian government assault on Houla, Syria.


Russia's foreign ministry on Friday blamed the Houla massacre, in which 108 people were killed, on foreign assistance to Syrian rebels, including arms deliveries and mercenary training.

“The tragedy in Houla showed what can be the outcome of financial aid and smuggling of modern weapons to rebels, recruitment of foreign mercenaries and flirting with various sorts of extremists,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Russian statement referred to an investigation done by Syrian authorities into the killings, completed Thursday, which made it “evident that the crime was an act well planned by the rebels” in order to undermine efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Without placing blame on a specific country for the aid, Russia slammed “attempts to use the deaths of children and innocent people for political ends to return to the vicious algorithm of a 'Libya scenario'.”

Real reasons for continued violence are “unpreparedness of certain leading international and regional players to use the logic of a peaceful settlement in their actions on Syria,” the foreign ministry said.

Weekend's bloodshed in the central village have resulted in an international wave of condemnation, with the UN Human Rights Council ordering Friday an independent probe and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay saying it could be a “crime against humanity.”

Russia has faced increasing pressure from the West to soften its resistance to tough UN action on Syria, but President Vladimir Putin declared Friday that “you cannot do anything by force”.

Putin made clear earlier that Russia did not want to see a repeat of the situation in Libya, where a NATO-led air campaign in support of rebels led to the ousting and death of Moscow's ally Moamer Kadhafi after Russia abstained in a key Security Council vote.

Although Russia has denied it is taking sides in the Syrian conflict, it has adamantly opposed any UN action against Assad, arguing instead for the six-point plan pushed forward by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. - Sapa-AFP