Syria blames rebels for Houla massacre

In this citizen journalism image taken on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 and provided by Edlib News Network ENN, Syrians gather around a U.N. observers vehicle during a demonstration in Kfarnebel, Idlib province, northern Syria. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria on Thursday to stop its attacks, saying the U.N. observers monitoring the cease-fire were not there to watch the killing of innocent people. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS HANDOUT PHOTO

In this citizen journalism image taken on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 and provided by Edlib News Network ENN, Syrians gather around a U.N. observers vehicle during a demonstration in Kfarnebel, Idlib province, northern Syria. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria on Thursday to stop its attacks, saying the U.N. observers monitoring the cease-fire were not there to watch the killing of innocent people. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS HANDOUT PHOTO

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria has blamed up to 800 rebel fighters for the massacre in Houla last week that killed more than 100 people.

A news conference Thursday by Qassem Jamal Ihsan, who headed the government's investigation into the massacre, was the most detailed response by the regime since the massacre began late Friday.

The slaughter in Houla brought immediate worldwide condemnation of President Bashar Assad. The U.N. says there are strong suspicions that "shabiha" fighters, shadowy gunmen who operate on behalf of the regime, were responsible for at least some of the carnage.

But Ihsan categorically denied any regime role in the massacre, saying hundreds of rebel fighters carried out the slaughter after launching a coordinated attack on five security checkpoints.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria has blamed up to 800 rebel fighters for the massacre in Houla last week that killed more than 100 people.

A news conference Thursday by Qassem Jamal Ihsan, who headed the government's investigation into the massacre, was the most detailed response by the regime since the massacre began late Friday.

The slaughter in Houla brought immediate, worldwide condemnation of President Bashar Assad. The U.N. says there are strong suspicions that "shabiha" fighters, shadowy gunmen who operate on behalf of the regime, were responsible for at least some of the carnage.

But Ihsan categorically denied any role in the massacre, saying hundreds of rebel fighters carried out the slaughter after launching a coordinated attack on five security checkpoints.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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