Syria's civil war is horrific, with most of the crimes committed by the Assad regime and its supporters. This may lead to moral clarity, but not necessarily to international military action.
Syria's Houla massacre last week was a war crime. This much is certain. After government shelling of Houla killed about 20 people there, a further 90 residents were hunted down in their homes and shops and then butchered, many of them children.
The massacre has shifted the international picture, with the mass expulsion of Syrian diplomats from Britain, the US, France, and six other countries, slightly tougher talk from the United Nations officials working with special envoy Kofi Annan, and a burst of outrage from politicians around the world. Who was responsible? The activists and their supporters insist it was the Syrian Army itself, but there is not yet any hard evidence, only indications. Analysts who know the region well expect that the murders were carried out by shabiha, pro-government militiamen who work in concert with the military.
The cui bono reasoning of some on the anti-imperial left, who suggest the massacre was carried out by President Bashar al-Assad's opponents (since it makes his regime look so bad), should be dismissed as the logical contortion that it is. The Assad family has killed and tortured tens of thousands to retain power down the decades.
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