It boggles my mind that I’m just now, five days later, hearing about this.
On Friday, May 25th, the Syrian government sent a team composed of its own military as well as government-linked militias to two opposition-controlled villages in the Houla region. Houla was seen as a protest-hub and had often previously been raided before when the government was looking to track down activists and protestors. 108 civillians were killed, and 300 were injured. Of the 108 killed, 34 were women.
49 were children.
Activists contacted local UN observers prior to the raid, pleading for help and fearing an imminent government attack. The UN monitors failed to respond.
Wikipedia (warning for graphic descriptions):
On May 25, 2012, video emerged [showing] the bloodstained bodies of many children huddled on a floor in the dark.Some of the children had had their skulls split open.Others had been shot or knifed to death, some with their throats cut.
The Local Coordination Committees stated that the attack by the military was preceded by mortar shelling of the town, which in itself left entire families dead.
The blog where I first learned of this:
These are the events and photos too graphic even for those who deal with them daily. The Times will not publish more photos from the massacre; neither will CNN.
The blog post links to further news sources, photos for those with firmer stomachs than me, and a detailed description of the photos for those who can’t bear to look at the senseless violence.
The government has blamed the attack on Al-Qaeda, which unsurprisingly contradict all accounts from local residents as well as activists. The international reaction to this has not been favourable, to say the least. Yesterday, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.S. have all announced that they were expelling Syrian diplomats in protest to this massacre.
If you want to be able to keep a closer eye on what’s going on within Syria, I recommend the Syria live blog from Al Jazeera. There is also the Twitter feed run by Sultan Al-Qassemi, who first rose to prominence during the Egypt/Tunisia chapters of Arab Spring.