Numerous diplomats commented on the latest massacre in Syria at a session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, including international envoy Kofi Annan, who expressed his "horror and condemnation."
Syrian activists said on Wednesday that troops loyal to the regime had killed dozens of people, including women and children, in Mazraat al-Qubair in central Hama province. The exact circumstances and death toll remain unclear. The Syrian government has denied the claims as "absolutely baseless."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also commented on the massacre.
"Today's news reports of another massacre ... are shocking and sickening," he told the 193-nation assembly on Thursday. "A village apparently surrounded by Syrian forces. The bodies of innocent civilians lying where they were, shot. Some allegedly burned or slashed with knives."
UN observers in Syria attempting to reach the scene of the alleged massacre were denied access at army checkpoints and also fired upon by small arms, Ban said.
The head of the observer mission, Norwegian General Robert Mood, said in a statement that his team "is concerned about the restriction imposed on its movement as it will impede our ability to monitor, observe, and report."
Mood said UN patrols headed for the village were stopped at army checkpoints. Some patrols, he said, were stopped by civilians warning it would be dangerous for the observers to enter the village.
Peace plan not being implemented
During his speech at the UN, Annan admitted that the six-point peace plan that he proposed and had supposedly been adopted by both sides in the Syrian conflict was not working. Last week, Annan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and urged the strongman to change tact in Syria, but shellings and bombings have continued.
"The country has become more polarized and more radicalized," Annan said.
Annan encouraged the international community to collectively apply more pressure on Syria to implement the peace plan, which includes a cease-fire but also provisions for a political transfer of power.
"We must find the will and the common ground to act - and act as one," he said. "Individual actions or interventions will not resolve the crisis. As we demand compliance with international law and the six-point plan, it must be made clear that there will be consequences if compliance is not forthcoming."
He added, "clearly, the time has come to determine what more can be done to secure implementation of the plan - and/or what other options exist to address the crisis."
China, Russia standing fast
Russia on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to keep outside intervention in Syria off the table.
"There will not be a Security Council mandate for outside intervention, I guarantee you that," said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov during a trip to Kazakhstan with President Vladimir Putin, referring to Moscow's determination to block a UN Security Council mandate that would allow military action in Syria.
China is also sticking to its position, joining Russia and four other nations from leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in issuing a statement that said more dialogue was necessary to resolve the conflict.
"The Shanghai group member states are against military interference in the affairs of this region [the Middle East and North Africa], enforced 'handover of power,' unilateral sanctions," a joint statement from leaders of the SCO said. "Member states stress the need to stop any violence on the territory of Syria wherever it is coming from; they respect broad nationwide dialogue, based on independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria."
In addition to China and Russia, the SCO includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and who were meeting in Beijing.
mz,ncy/pfd (Reuters, AP, AFP)