Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that those responsible for last week's massacre of more than 100 people in Syria should be punished, in unusually harsh criticism from a staunch ally.
UN investigators have blamed pro-regime gunmen for at least some of the carnage in Houla, saying men in civilian clothes gunned down people in the streets and stabbed women and children in their homes. The Syrian government denied its troops were behind the killings and blamed "armed terrorists."
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Ahmadinejad declined to say in an interview Wednesday with France 24 who he believed was behind the attack, but added: "It seems unbelievable to me that a government would engage in killing its own people .... (but) I'm not excluding anyone from this responsibility," he said.
The aftermath of the Houla massacre (Photo: Reuters)
"We (in Iran) are quite disappointed about this," Ahmadinejad said from Tehran through a translator. "Any individual who committed these murders is guilty… The people responsible for this massacre must be punished, must be sanctioned."
The United States and Western nations expelled Syrian diplomats in protest – a move Syria's state-run media denounced Wednesday as "unprecedented hysteria."
Ahmadinejad said the West "should not exploit" the crisis, adding that because it is clear Western governments are opposed to Syrian leader Bashar Assad, "we cannot trust what they say."
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