4:25pm

Sun June 3, 2012
Middle East

Assad Denies Role in Houla Massacre

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

In two days, voters in Wisconsin will decide whether or not to recall their governor, Republican Scott Walker. It's been one of the most expensive statewide races in American history. And the stakes in that election could have national implications for unions, for deficit hawks, for businesses, even for President Obama's re-election. We'll tell you why in a moment in our cover story today, but first to some news out of Syria.

And in his first speech to parliament in five months, President Bashar al-Assad denied responsibility for that massacre in the city of Houla last week that left more than 100 people dead. Pro-Assad militias have been blamed, but the Syrian leader condemned the killings.

PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD: (Through Translator) In reality, even monsters would not carry out what we have seen, especially what we saw in the Houla massacre. I think no human language can describe it.

RAZ: Assad also called opposition fighters trying to oust him terrorists.

AL-ASSAD: (Through Translator) We are facing terrorism. This is a reality. And it is very clear. The terrorist is not concerned with reforms, terrorist will not stop until he achieves his mission irrespective of the results.

RAZ: Well, the U.N. now estimates at least 10,000 civilians have died in the fighting in Syria that broke out last year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.