Assad has been a thug for a while, but this is a new low even for him. The Guardian:
Syria’s fragile peace process is in shreds after what was claimed to be a regime-backed massacre left 32 children among more than 90 dead and triggered a wave of international revulsion. As UN observers in the central town of Houla confirmed one of the bloodiest death tolls of the 15-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, rebels said they were on the brink of abandoning a negotiated plan to end the conflict.
Videos uploaded to the internet and purporting to be from Houla show many dead and badly mutilated infants. Residents say some victims were killed with knives, while many more died from 18 hours of relentless shelling that left buildings wrecked and homes destroyed in a large residential area near the centre of town. Major General Robert Mood, head of the UN team in Syria, deplored the attack, which began at midday on Friday, as “indiscriminate and unforgivable” but did not say who had been to blame. Syrian state television blamed “terrorist gangs”.
As calls mounted for international intervention, a peace plan negotiated in March by the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, appeared to be in ruins. Yesterday the main opposition Free Syrian Army, which, like regime troops had failed to abide by Annan’s terms, told the TV station al-Jazeera that unless civilian safety could be guaranteed, the plan was “going to hell”.