800 men carried out Syria's Houla massacre
Damascus, May 31 (IANS) The head of an inquiry committee into a massacre in Syria's Houla village has said preliminary investigations indicate that about 800 heavily armed men carried out the attacks on government forces and slaughtered families in Houla.
Attacks in Houla, a group of villages 25 km from Homs city, claimed the lives of over 108 people, which included at least 49 children under the age of 10 and 32 women.
Addressing a press conference to announce the initial assessments, Brigadier General Qasem Jamal Sulaiman said Thursday that the armed groups attacked several posts of the government troops that responded in self-defence, Xinhua reported.
He said the targeted families were peaceful ones who neither have participated in any anti-government activities nor took up arms against the government.
Stressing that "these are only initial assessment," Sulaiman added that "the initial reports were based on testimonies from eye witnesses."
He claimed that most of the dead bodies shown on TV footage belonged to the armed men, who were killed in the clashes with government troops.
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said that his government has asked the head of the UN supervision mission in Syria to examine the massacre site.
The final reports will be submitted to the international community once available, he added.
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