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Violence In Syria Is As Bad As, Or Worse Than, Before Cease-Fire, U.N. Says

From The Associated Press:

"The U.N.'s deputy envoy for Syria, Jean-Marie Guehenno, [has] told the U.N. Human Rights Council that the violence in Syria has 'reached or even surpassed' levels seen before the April 12 ceasefire agreement and that a six-point peace plan forged by his boss, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, 'is clearly not being implemented.' "

That word comes as the U.N.'s Independent International Commission of Inquiry reports that while it has been "unable to determine the identity of the perpetrators at this time," it believes that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad "may have been responsible for many" of the more than 100 deaths — many of them women and children — last month in the central Syrian town of Houla.

In a lengthy report on its findings, the commission says that:

-- Positions manned by government forces in the area at the time of the massacre "had a clear line of sight" to the homes of two families where many of the deaths occurred, "making access for perpetrators not aligned with the government difficult."

-- It "has testimony indicating that those who fled the area, fled to anti-government controlled parts of town."

-- "The manner in which these killings took place resembles those previously and repeatedly documented to have been committed by the government."

Assad's regime has claimed that "terrorists" were responsible for most of the deaths in Houla.

Related headlines:

-- "TV Station Attacked, 7 Staffers Killed." (The Associated Press)

-- "Battles Rage Near Capital." (Los Angeles Times)

-- "Assad Talks Of War." (The New York Times)

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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