Women and children were shot at close range. Some had their throats slit, others had their eyes gouged out....
U.N. monitors were present to observe the aftermath, under the terms of a U.N.-brokered peace plan.
Their confirmation of the 108 deaths — including 49 children and 34 women — along with gruesome videos posted on the Internet of piles of dead children sent waves of revulsion rippling around the world and stirred an immediate response....
Among officials in Washington, there was a palpable sense of a line being crossed, said a State Department official who sat in on meetings at which the Houla massacre was discussed. The United States, along with a dozen Western allies, expelled Syrian diplomats in protest.
“There was something in the air after Houla — you could feel it,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It’s hard to put a diplomatic veneer on something like this.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s public pronouncements on Syria took on a sharper tone as she signaled impatience with the U.N. peace plan, which has clearly failed to halt the violence, and with diplomatic efforts to push for tougher sanctions against Syria in the Security Council.
During a news conference in the Danish capital, Clinton appeared to edge closer to endorsing a military option for Syria.
“Every day that goes by makes the argument for it stronger,” she said.
Yet with Russia, a close ally of Syria, stressing that it will not countenance tougher action at the United Nations against the regime in Damascus, it remained unclear whether the killings in Houla marked a turning point in the conflict or simply a new low.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment