"Scores of villagers, including at least 32 children under 10, were killed in a Syrian town near the central city of Homs, top United Nations officials said on Saturday, strongly suggesting that the government of Syria was to blame...
"Gory images of the aftermath — particularly the scene of rows of dead children smeared with blood — prompted an emotional outpouring of antigovernment demonstrations across Syria."Juan Cole wonders if this is the beginning of the end:
"The Baath military typically only deploys artillery against city quarters dominated by defectors and armed men of the Syrian Free Army, and my guess is that they were attempting to retake Houla from the SFA. Artillery barrages allow them to avoid taking high casualties in hard hand to hand fighting in narrow city alleyways.
"But artillery is a blunt weapon, and if it hits apartment buildings full of non-combatants, it can cause a massacre. Seems to me that bombarding an inhabited city quarter is almost always a war crime, since civilian casualties are eminently foreseeable.
"The outcome in Houla is so horrific that it may turn the stomachs of the remaining Syrians who are on the fence, and produce a new backlash against the regime."