Syria bodies pile up as U.N. consensus for action remains elusive

(CBS News) The United Nations mission in Syria reported Wednesday the discovery of 13 bodies with their hands tied behind their backs and evidence that some were shot at close range.

The latest sign of unchecked violence comes hours after U.N. and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan left Damascus after calling the massacre of 108 people in Houla last Friday a tipping point in the Syrian crisis.

"This is what the international community is asking for now - action, not words," said Annan.

But the question remains what the brutal slaying of so many people - including many women and children - will be a tipping point toward.

The U.N. Security Council will meet Wednesday to discuss what - if anything - can be done to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

Reaching any kind of unified response will prove difficult.

Officials from Russia and China reiterated earlier in the day that they're categorically opposed to any military intervention, and say it's too early for the U.N. to take any new measures.

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The White House made it clear Tuesday that the Obama administration remains opposed to any military action at this stage.

New French president, Francois Hollande, however, said military action cannot be ruled out.

The horrific images of the massacre in Houla, a group of villages near the battered city of Homs, have prompted the U.S. and at least a dozen other nations to expel senior Syrian diplomats.

The U.N. has accused Syrian forces of killing about 15 of the total 108 with shelling, but President Bashar Assad's regime denies opposition accusations that the rest of the dead were the victims of government-backed thugs going door to door and killing people execution-style.

Thirty-four women and 49 children, by the U.N.'s count, were stabbed or shot dead at point blank range.

Assad and his ministers have rejected any involvement in the bloodshed at Houla, blaming "armed terrorists" for the majority of the killings and saying government forces were only defending themselves from attack by rebels.

"They pointed guns at us and trapped us in a room like sheep before spraying us with bullets," a woman who witnessed the massacre says. "They did not leave a family without killing one of its members."

Syrian state-run media, meanwhile, has been criticizing the expulsion of Syrian diplomats around the world as unfounded "hysteria".

  • Charlie D'Agata

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