Massacre Pushes Syria Closer to Civil War

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The killing of innocent children in Syria is forcing world leaders to take a hard line against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The governments of the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia and Canada have expelled Syrian diplomats in the wake of a brutal massacre last Friday.

More than one hundred people were murdered in the community of Houla near the city of Homs.

The United Nations claims 49 children and 34 women were included among the dead.

Click play to watch John Waage's report followed by analysis from CBN News Sr. International Correspondent Gary Lane, who's done extensive reports in Syria.

Western leaders are pointing to Assad's government as the culprit in the killings.

U.N. observers arrived in Houla over the weekend, where residents dug a mass grave for the victims. The observers are trying to hold together a failing U.N.-sponsored cease-fire between the Syrian army and opposition forces in the country.

"We have got an agreement from the government, both from in Damascus and locally, to stop any attacks from the government side," Martin Griffith of the U.N. Observer Force explained.

"So, we want to make sure that is understood locally by the government checkpoint, and then we want to make sure that the other side understands that there is a stand-down, a truce, and that they also won't attack," he said.

The Syrian government says the real account of the massacre is buried under what it called a "tsunami of lies." But leaders in Europe and the United States are outraged by the latest killings, and they're putting responsibility on the Assad regime.

"There is not the slightest doubt that there was deliberate government shelling against a civilian neighborhood in these three villages outside Homs," said Sir Mark Lyall Grant from the U.K. Permanent Representative Office to the U.N.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., criticized the Obama administration in an interview with Fox News, citing its lack of leadership in dealing with the Syrian atrocities and Assad in the 15 months since the uprising against him began.

"Here we have over a year, and we're now talking about possibly vetting some people," McCain said. "Nearly 10,000 people have died. This is a brutal regime of incredible proportions."

The White House and heads of European governments have been slow to push for Assad's ouster because they didn't want to antagonize Russia, which supports Assad with weapons and financial resources.

But after the latest massacre, even the Russians are on the verge of admitting that the situation in Syria is out of control.

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John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.