Shelling resumes in Houla, but no sign of "terrorists" Assad blames
Alex Thomson, of Britain's Channel 4, reports for "CBS This Morning".
(CBS News) DAMASCUS - A speech by President Assad to his parliament in Damascus is an unusual event, and it's clear that the regime is being affected, in one sense, by international pressure, because Assad went out of his way to talk about the terrible events at Houla - but he blamed them squarely on "terrorists".
When the regime in Syria talks about terrorists, what they mean is the opposition - the rebels.
We were the first journalists to get into Houla immediately after those events, in which 108 people were killed - most of them women and children.
Everybody we spoke to, right across that town, squarely blamed the event not on terrorists, but what they called Shabiha - armed militias which they insist are controlled by President Assad's regime. They even pointed us to villages outside Houla, to the west, where they said these armed militias, these Shabiha, had come from.
So yesterday we were the first journalists to visit those villages. The United Nations hasn't been there yet for their investigation into the massacre. We found no evidence of any militias. There was no evidence of heavy weapons, there were no tank tracks on the road. There was no fighting.
What the people there told us, was those terrible events that happened, in which those people were massacred, were nothing more than tribal score settling between different families in Houla.
You've got an extraordinary culture of finger pointing right now, of blame, which perhaps you might expect in any civil war.
We did witness one important and significant event, however. While we were in the villages, we looked down over Houla and the shelling began again.
President Assad has said the shelling which preceded the massacre was caused by the terrorists - a response to them using heavy weapons against state forces.
Well there was shelling going on yesterday and there was no sign of any militias, any "terrorists," in that region, and no sign that they had been here which begs the question; if they're not shelling Houla then who is?
The only people we saw on the ground - and we saw lots of them - were Syrian army soldiers.Click on the player above to see Thomson's full report from Damascus.
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