Foreign Secretary William Hague is calling for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council over the Houla massacre
Foreign Secretary William Hague has said he was "absolutely sickened" by the massacre of more than 100 civilians, including dozens of children, in Syria.
Dismissing the the claims of President Bashar Assad's regime that it was not responsible for the slaughter, he called for international action to prevent Syria descending into a full civil war.
The Syrian charge d'affaires is to be summoned to the Foreign Office on Sunday to receive a dressing-down over the attacks on Houla, central Syria, which have provoked international uproar and condemnation.
"It is a familiar tactic of the Assad regime to blame others for what's happening in their country to try to get out of responsibility for the scale of the destruction," Mr Hague said.
"We are absolutely sickened in the British Government and across the international community by what we've seen over the last few days, in particular about the deaths of more than 100 unarmed men, women and children."
He said they were "more statistics" to add to a "huge total" that demonstrate the "brutality" of the regime, adding that the deaths "illuminate the type of tyranny that the people in Syria have been experiencing".
Mr Hague was travelling to Moscow for talks with Russia's foreign minister. Russia and China have been the principal opponents of stronger action against the Syrian regime by the UN.
"It isn't in the interests of Russia, it's not in anyone's interests, for Syria to descend into an even bloodier situation and into a full-scale civil war and that's now the danger," Mr Hague added.
His comments came after the Syrian government flatly denied claims that its forces were responsible for the slaughter. Foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said that Syria was being subjected to a "tsunami of lies" and claimed that anti-government gunmen carried out the attack.
The United Nations Security Council later blamed Syrian government forces for artillery and tank shelling of Houla and strongly condemned the killing of dozens of civilians. In a press statement issued after an emergency meeting, the council said it also "condemned the killing of civilians by shooting at close range and by severe physical abuse" in Houla.