Top U.N. Official: Strong Suspicion Shabiha Involved in Houla Tragedy

A top U.N. official said Tuesday there are "strong" suspicions that a militia loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad carried out a massacre in the town of Houla which has sparked international condemnation.

"There is strong suspicion that the Shabiha were involved in this tragedy in Houla," U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told reporters at the U.N. headquarters.

Ladsous also indicated that the Syrian government played a major part in the massacre in Houla last Friday in which at least 108 people were killed.

The U.N. under secretary general said the number of victims from an artillery barrage "points to responsibility of the government" as only Assad's forces have tanks and other artillery. Ladsous added that the use of knives and other hand weapons "probably points" to Shabiha involvement.

A U.N. source said Sunday that a preliminary investigation into Friday's massacre had indicated that an artillery barrage by government forces against Houla had been followed up by a militia attack.

Source: Agence France Presse

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