COULD the massacre on Friday of over 100 people in Houla, an area of several villages close to Syria's third city of Homs, mark a turning point in Syria's bloody uprising? Politicians around the world expressed outrage after the UN confirmed that 49 children, many under the age of 10, were among the dead, their bodies shown in pictures and video footage. The UN Security Council met on Sunday evening to condemn the killings while the American secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, called for an end to president Bashar Assad's "rule by murder".
This is one of the most brutal incidents in recent months and the bloodiest since UN envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan to end Syria's fourteen-month crisis officially came into effect in April. Residents of Houla say the army shelled the area before men dressed in military clothing, believed to be regime loyalist gangs from neighbouring Alawite (the sect to which the Assad family belongs) villages, raided the area, using guns and knives to carry out summary executions.