A Syrian government investigation into the massacre that recently killed more than 100 people in the western Syria village of Houla has blamed anti-Damascus armed groups for the killings.
The head of the inquiry, Brigadier General Qassem Jamal Suleiman said during a news conference in the Syrian capital on Thursday that between 600 and 800 armed terrorists used heavy machinery to carry out the attacks on the village on May 25.
The fatalities included dozens of women and children.
"It appears that all the victims came from peaceful families who refused to rise up against the government or take up arms, but had rows with armed groups," the general stated, adding that facts and evidence showed the victims had been killed at close range.
There were no traces of burns or other evidence that could indicate that artillery bombing by Syrian forces had led to the massive loss of life, he further noted.
The general went on to say that the grizzly massacre had been carried out in an attempt to “eliminate the presence of the government [in the area] totally and turn it into a region out of government control."
"Killing children does not meet any goal of the government but those of the armed groups," he pointed out, insisting that Syrian troops did not enter the area before or after the incident.
The head of the UN observer mission in Syria, Major General Robert Mood said in a briefing via video from Damascus to an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on May 27 that the UN observers in Houla had estimated the fatalities at 108, including 49 children and 34 women.
However, the Security Council condemned the violence at the meeting, saying it “involved a series of government artillery and tank shelling on a residential neighborhood.”
Damascus has strongly denied any involvement in the bloodshed and blamed armed terrorist groups for violence across the country as part of a plan to ignite a civil war.
Syrian authorities continue their investigation into the massacre.