Agencies- The fresh atrocities in al-Treimseh village near Hama in Syria had certainly dashed hopes, if there remained any, for a peaceful outcome in the near term. Under an international plan drafted by Annan, President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition were to name representatives who would hammer out plans for a transitional government.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned what his monitors on the ground had seen as an "indiscriminate" bombardment that included rocket-firing helicopters of al-Treimseh in rebellious Hama province, and he questioned President al-Assad's commitment to a U.N.-sponsored peace plan for Syria.
Ban also considered al-Treimseh massacre is "a clear violation" of joint special envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, Security Council resolutions and international law.
"I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the indiscriminate use of heavy artillery and shelling of populated areas, including by firing from helicopters," Ban said in a statement.
"These acts of violence are a clear violation of the six-point plan, Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043, and international law. They also cast serious doubts on President al-Assad's recent expression of commitment to the peace plan in his meeting with the Joint Special Envoy."
In Damascus, Major General Robert Mood, chief of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), confirmed that there was a continuous fighting with the use of mechanized units and helicopters in al-Treimseh overnight Thursday.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced "outrage" on Friday over the mass killings, reiterating a call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down for a political transition in his country.
"Credible reports indicate that this unconscionable act was carried out by artillery, tanks and helicopters -- indisputable evidence that the regime deliberately murdered innocent civilians," she said.
"Syria cannot be peaceful, stable or democratic until al-Assad goes and a political transition begins," Clinton said, calling for an "immediate" ceasefire in Hama to allow UN observers to enter al-Traimseh.
For his part, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin Friday strongly condemned the massacre of "innocent civilians," urging concerned Syrian parties to continue supporting Annan's mediation efforts and seriously implementing his six-point plan.
In Moscow, Russia condemned the mass killing and pressed for a thorough probe into the tragedy.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Russia believed such carnage would only benefit those who are "not seeking peace but are persistently trying to sow seeds of inter-religious enmity and civil conflict," and those who "do not care about Syrian people's grief and sufferings."
Also on Friday, UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan said he was shocked and appalled by the massacre, adding that UN observers were ready to investigate the killings.
“I condemn these atrocities in the strongest possible terms,” Annan said.
"It is desperately urgent that this violence and brutality stops and more important than ever that governments with influence exert it more effectively to ensure that the violence ends immediately," Annan said in a statement.
But at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S. diplomats and their Western allies continued Friday to run up against a refusal on the part of Russia to lift its veto on harsher sanctions or any steps Moscow views as imposing "regime change" in Damascus.
Syria has been wracked by bombings and violence against civilians since March 2011, when anti-government protests began.
Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.