Russia and China have reiterated their opposition to military intervention in Syria, amid international condemnation of a massacre in which more than 100 people died. Meanwhile, evidence of a new atrocity has emerged.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday that it was too early for the UN Security Council to take new action in the wake of the killing of 108 people in Houla.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters China "opposes military intervention and does not support forced regime change."
"The fundamental route to resolving [the conflict] is still for all sides to fully support Annan's mediation efforts," he added.
Russia and China have in the past blocked two Security Council resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad.
Discovery of apparent executions
There was further outrage on Wednesday as UN observers said 13 bodies had been found in eastern Syria. The victims were shot through the head.
A statement on behalf of the Norwegian head of the observer mission, Major-General Robert Mood, said the corpses had their hands tied behind their backs, and there was evidence they had been shot from close range.
"General Mood is deeply disturbed by this appalling and inexcusable act," the statement said.
French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that military intervention was an option that could be considered.
"A military intervention is not out of the question, on the condition that it were carried out in accordance with international law - that is to say after being deliberated at the [UN] Security Council," Hollande told France 2 television, though he added that every effort should be made to find a solution that "would not necessarily be forcibly military" in nature.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle added that his country would push for "new engagement" by the council on the situation in Syria.
Turkey and Japan on Wednesday became the latest countries to expel Syrian diplomats in protest against Friday's killings.
Germany, France, Britain and Italy were among a number of countries that had expelled Syrian diplomats on Tuesday.
ccp, rc/ncy (AFP, Reuters)