U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan said he was “shocked” at the weekend’s “tragic events” in the central Syrian town of Houla as he arrived in Damascus on Monday following fresh violence last night in the city of Hama.
Speaking to reporters at a Damascus hotel, Annan described the Houla massacre on Friday and Saturday as “an appalling moment with profound consequences.”
Syrian security forces bombarded the city of Hama, killing at least 24 people throughout Sunday night and into the early hours of Monday morning, opposition groups said, as United Nations officials planned to hold an urgent meeting with Syrian regime figures in response to the mounting violence.
On Sunday, Syrian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles opened fire on several neighborhoods of Hama, the Hama Revolution Leadership Council said in a statement.
The dead included five women and eight children, the Hama Revolution Leadership Council said in a statement.
But while the reported death toll from the opposition group was 41, the Local Coordination Committees activist group said at least 24 were killed.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the say the bombardment of Hama lasted until the early hours of Monday.
Amateur videos showed a makeshift hospital were several people lay on the floor either dead or wounded.
The shelling reportedly came after a series of attacks by rebel Free Syrian Army fighters on roadblocks and other positions manned by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, opposition sources said.
“Tank shelling brought down several buildings. Their inhabitants were pulled out from the rubble and many are in a critical condition,” the statement said.
The report could not be independently verified.
There was also heavy shelling in neighborhoods within the Syrian city of Homs during the early hours of Monday, Al Arabiya reported.
Meanwhile, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is planning to hold talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday.
It is Annan’s second visit to Syria since the start of his mission three months ago.
It came after the U.N Security Council on Sunday strongly condemned the Syrian government for using artillery in the massacre in which at least 108 people were killed in Houla.
Annan is to meet Foreign Minister Walid Muallem later on Monday ahead of talks with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, a Syrian official said earlier, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The images of the bloodied bodies of children triggered shock around the world and underlined the failure of a six-week-old ceasefire plan to stop the violence in the 14-month uprising against Assad’s rule.
Annan will also meet with opposition and civil society representatives, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said.
He will also review the work of a U.N. military observer mission in Syria, Fawzi said in an email.
The United Nations says more than 10,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict since it started 15 months ago. Syrian activists put the toll at more than 13,000.