Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday blamed al-Houla massacre, in which 108 people were killed, on foreign assistance to Syrian rebels, including arms deliveries and mercenary training.
“The tragedy in al-Houla showed what can be the outcome of financial aid and smuggling of modern weapons to rebels, recruitment of foreign mercenaries and flirting with various sorts of extremists,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Russian statement referred to an investigation done by Syrian authorities into the killings, completed Thursday, which made it “evident that the crime was an act well planned by the rebels” in order to undermine efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
Without placing blame on a specific country for the aid, Russia slammed “attempts to use the deaths of children and innocent people for political ends to return to the vicious algorithm of a ‘Libya scenario’.”
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that both the government and its foes had a hand in the deaths, but the statement on Friday made no mention of government involvement and pointed the finger at rebels and unnamed foreign backers.
Real reasons for continued violence are “unpreparedness of certain leading international and regional players to use the logic of a peaceful settlement in their actions on Syria,” the foreign ministry said.
Weekend’s bloodshed in the central village have resulted in an international wave of condemnation, with the U.N. Human Rights Council ordering Friday an independent probe and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay saying it could be a “crime against humanity.”
Russia has faced increasing pressure from the West to soften its resistance to tough U.N. action on Syria, but President Vladimir Putin declared Friday that “you cannot do anything by force.”
Putin made clear earlier that Russia did not want to see a repeat of the situation in Libya, where a NATO-led air campaign in support of rebels led to the ousting and death of Moscow’s ally Muammar Qaddafi after Russia abstained in a key Security Council vote.
Although Russia has denied it is taking sides in the Syrian conflict, it has adamantly opposed any U.N. action against Assad, arguing instead for the six-point plan pushed forward by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.