|Annan at his press conference in Damascus (AP)|
At least 87 people were killed on Sunday in Syria, shortly after more than 100 had been killed in Houla, a town in de province of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Thirty-four of the dead were killed in random shelling of the central city of Hama by troops retaliating for losses suffered in clashes with rebel fighters. "Hama is like a ghost city," an activist on the spot told AFP by telephone on Monday. The activist said troops were surrounding the areas where there was fighting, and it was feared that a new attack might occur.
The Observatory says more than 13,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011.
The UN Security Council had condemned the Syrian government in a non-binding resolution for its role in the massacre that killed 108 people in Houla on Friday and Saturday, among them 49 children and 34 women. Britain and France had proposed a text making a stronger condemnation of the Assad government, bu Russia would not agree on the wording. In Monday it said both sides in the conflict were responsible for the massacre. "Here we have a situation where both sides clearly had a hand in the fact that peaceful citizens were killed," said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Kofi Annan, the special envoy of the UN and the Arab League arrived in the Syrian capital Monday for a bid to salvage his peace plan. He expressed "shock" at the massacre in Houla, in remarks to reporters ahead of a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. Annan said those responsible for the massacre must be held accountable, and called on "everyone with a gun" to abide by his six-point blueprint.
"I urge the government to take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully, and for everyone involved to help create the right context for a credible political process. And this message of peace is not only for the government, but for everyone with a gun.''