An 11-year-old boy was able to survive the massacres in Houla, and he told the Guardian how pro-regime militia men killed his family, and how he managed to escape.
The boy said the militia entered Houla around 3 a.m. Saturday in tanks and heavy vehicles after the town had already been shelled several hours before. They knocked on his family's door and demanded to see his father, brother and uncle. What happened next isn't for the faint of heart:
"My mum yelled at them," said the boy. "She asked: 'What do you want from my husband and son?' A bald man with a beard shot her with a machine gun from the neck down. Then they killed my sister, Rasha, with the same gun. She was five years old.
"Then they shot my brother Nader in the head and in the back. I saw his soul leave his body in front of me.
"They shot at me, but the bullet passed me and I wasn't hit. I was shaking so much I thought they would notice me. I put blood on my face to make them think I'm dead."
The militia men thought the boy was dead, and proceeded to loot the house. Eventually they were able to find the father, uncle, and brother they came looking for. They shot and killed them all.
The Guardian asked the boy if he knew who the men were, and he told them, "Why are you asking me who they were? I know who they were. We all know it. They were the regime army and people who fight with them. That is true."
Kofi Annan arrived in Syria Monday morning, and has plans to meet with Syria's Foreign Minister today and President Bashar al-Assad tomorrow. He also has plans to meet with opposition leaders during his trip. Annan gave a quick statement from his hotel this morning and called the Houla massacre "an appalling crime" and praised the U.N. Security Council for condemning it.