The Houla Massacre of a week ago in several small Muslim villages near the Syrian city of Homs underscores the tragic circumstances of a civilian vulnerability to brutal violence of a criminal government. Most of the 108 civilians who died in Houla were executed at close range in cold blood, over 50 of whom were children under the age of 10. It is no wonder that the Houla Massacre is being called ‘a tipping point’ in the global response to Syrian violence that started over 15 months ago.
The chilling nature of this vicious attack upon the most innocent among us, young children, seems like a point of no return. What happened in Houla, although still contested, seems confirmed as the mainly the work of the Shabiha, the notorious militia of thugs employed by Damascus to deal cruelly with opposition forces and their supposed supporters.
This massacre also represents a crude rebuff of UN diplomacy, and the ceasefire its 280 unarmed observers were monitoring since it was put into effect on April 12. In this regard the events in Houla reinforced the impression that the Assad regime was increasingly relying on tactics of depraved criminality and state terror to destroy the movement that has been mounted against it. Such defiance also challenged the UN and the international community to do more when confronted by such evil, or face being further discredited as inept and irrelevant.