Syria's president Bashar al-Assad came under increasing international pressure last night as UN envoy Kofi Annan warned the crisis there had reached tipping point and French president François Hollande said military intervention cannot be ruled out if it has UN Security Council backing.
Mr Hollande said Moscow and Beijing together presented the main obstacle to the adoption of tougher sanctions against Mr Assad.
"It is not possible to allow Bashar al-Assad's regime to massacre its own people . . . It is down to myself and others to convince Russia and China, and also to find a solution which is not necessarily a military one," Hollande, who is due to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday, told French television. "We should find another solution", says Irish Times.
Survivors of the Houla massacre blamed pro-regime gunmen for at least some of the carnage as the killings reverberated inside Syria and beyond, further isolating Assad and embarrassing his few remaining allies.
"It's very hard for me to describe what I saw, the images were incredibly disturbing," a Houla resident who hid in his home during the massacre told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "Women, children without heads, their brains or stomachs spilling out."
He said the pro-regime gunmen, known as shabiha, targeted the most vulnerable in the farming villages that make up Houla, a poor area in Homs province. "They went after the women, children and elderly," he said, asking that his name not be used out of fear of reprisals, informs 570 News.
In protest at the recent repression and killings, several Western countries expelled Syrian diplomats today, prompting the main opposition coalition to reiterate calls for the international community to use "necessary force" against Assad's regime.
"As I reminded the president, the international community will soon be reviewing the situation," Annan said.
"The government, and all government-backed militias could stop all military operations and show maximum restraint... I also appeal to the armed opposition to cease acts of violence", according to Indian Express.