This image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network and accessed Friday, May 25, 2012 purports to show police running toward a protest in Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) TV OUT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE CONTENT, DATE, LOCATION OR AUTHENTICITY OF THIS MATERIAL
The foreign ministry blames the killings on what it says were "hundreds of heavily armed gunmen" who also attacked soldiers in the area.
The assault on Houla (HOW'-lah) was one of the bloodiest single events in Syria's 15-month-old uprising.
Activists say regime forces peppered the area with mortar shells after large anti-government demonstrations Friday. That evening, they say pro-regime fighters stormed the villages, gunning down men in the streets and stabbing women and children in their homes.
The U.N. says 32 children under the age of 10 were among the dead and gruesome images of the victims have prompted a wave of international outrage. U.N. observers found spent artillery and tank shells at the site yesterday, a finding that points toward the government's heavily armed mechanized units.
But a foreign ministry spokesman disputes the activists' account of the massacre, saying Syria is being subjected to a "tsunami of lies."
The U.N. Security Council is convening an emergency meeting on the situation today.