UN Condemns Syria 'Atrocities'

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Aaron Schachter: I'm Aaron Shachter, this is The World. The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution today condemning Syria for the massacre in Houla. It was a week ago that a hundred civilians including many children were killed in the Syrian town by pro government militias, according to the UN. The human rights council wants an independent investigation into the massacre. Russia and China voted against the resolution. Russia instead supports an investigation by the Syrian government itself. The Guardian's Martin Chulov was in Syria recently and is now back at his base in Beirut. He says UN monitors in Syria played a key role in determining who was behind the Houla Massacre.

Martin Chulov: Three monitors turned up a day after the massacre, however they were able to chronicle and document what had taken place. You know remove any of the ambiguity about who was responsible for this killing. It was very clear that it was the pro-regime militias who did it. And having the UN say so, so emphatically, so early on, was instructive this week.

Schachter: You know we've seen the disagreement, or we've heard disagreement between people who appear to speak for the free Syrian army. One group this week made a threat that if Hassad doesn't stop, something will happen. Another group disavowed that threat. Were you able to determine when you were there, what kind of coherence there is among the rebel forces?

Chulov: That's a key issue. The rebel forces are fragmented. They're working basically as separate militias. There is no effective central command in control within the Syrian army whatsoever. The leadership, or the national leadership has been working out of hotels and a refugee camp in Turkey. There is a lot of disaffection with the way that that leadership has been claiming credit for direction operations, where it hasn't been operationally involved. So, unless there is some kind of a central current that runs through the opposition forces there, they are going to continue to be relatively easy pickings for the Syrian army.

Schachter: And do you get an impression from talking with people in Syria, whether there is a desire for national involvement for harming the free Syrian army, for attacking the Syrian regime. What is the general thought now, from what you can tell, inside Syria?

Chulov: Inside the opposition communities, they almost universally want weapons, that's what they're looking for. The Turkish border had been almost sealed though as far as weapons went. But in the last 48 hours, things have changed. There have been some weapons starting to get in. And for the first time in the last 16 months they seem to be an organized, state-backed supply line. We're talking oiled up collection cobs, plenty of boxes of ammunition. A lot of things that these guys have been asking for for a long time.

Schachter: The outside regime has blamed most of the atrocities really on the rebel forces themselves. Are there any instances where it's been proven that free Syrian army members committed atrocities during this conflict?

Chulov: Well they definitely attacked regime positions, they've definitely ambushed military conveys, buses things like that.
Schachter: With civilians killed?

Chulov: Yes I think that has happened. And there had been kidnappings of citizens, there had been killings. So by no means are the opposition forces, or the Suni community cleanskits in this.

Schachter: Martin Chulov is with The Guardian. He's based in Beirut. Martin thank you so much.

Chulov: You're welcome.