Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Today in Damascus President Bashar al-Assad and the United Nations special envoy on Syria-Arab League Kofi Annan will meet in a last-ditch effort to save the peace plan agreed at the end March between the Syrian leader and the former head of global diplomacy. The talks today following the "massacre" that took place on 25 May in Houla, in the province of Homs, where 108 people were killed, the vast majority of them women and children. In an interview with AsiaNews, the Apostolic Nuncio Mgr. Mario Zenari called the killing an "intolerable crime" that throws a "new shadow" on the war. The prelate added that the "furore" of international bodies is "not enough" and that the UN must give voice "to the initiatives of the Syrian community, who are trying to react to violence in a constructive way and not with the revenge. "
Divided into six sections, the document for peace in Syria drawn up by Kofi Annan and endorsed by the UN Security Council provides for an end to violence, the progressive implementation of a ceasefire, providing humanitarian aid, the release of people detained without trial, freedom of movement for journalists, the launch of a political dialogue between the government and opposition.
However, the carnage of recent days will overshadow today's talks and may scuttle the slender hopes of peace. The special envoy for Syria has called the killing a "disgusting act" with "profound consequences" on the future of the country. Kofi Annan hopes that those responsible be brought to justice and urges "anyone with a gun" to lay down their arms and join the road map outlined by the United Nations and the Arab League.
The UN Security Council has condemned Damascus for the use of artillery and tanks in the assault Houla. The Syrian government, by contrast, points the finger at rebels and fighters as the true perpetrators of the massacre. Survivors - many pretended to be dead to escape the carnage - and members of the Free Syrian Army claim that the attack was led by Alawite gunmen from a neighbouring village. The story seems to be confirmed also by groups, movements and human rights activists, although there is no independent evidence because media and observers do not have access to war zones.
Regarding the assault Houla, today fr. Federico Lombardi, director of Holy See Press Office, said: "The recent massacre in the Syrian town of Houla in which around one hundred people, including numerous children, lost their lives, is a motive of great sorrow and concern for the Holy Father and the entire Catholic community, as it is for the international community which has expressed unanimous condemnation of the incident. Renewing its appeal for an end to all forms of violence, the Holy See exhorts the parties involved and the entire international community to spare no efforts to resolve the crisis through dialogue and reconciliation. Likewise, leaders and believers of the various religions, through prayer and mutual collaboration, are called to commit themselves to promoting the peace which is so much sought after, for the good of the whole population".