New Delhi: Militant groups are responsible for a fresh massacre that left some 100 people dead in a Syrian village, said the Syrian envoy here who added that the May killing of over 100 people in Houla was a "pre-planned terrorist crime".
Syria`s Ambassador Riad Abbas on Thursday strongly denied the government`s involvement in the latest killings.
An opposition group has claimed that some 100 people, including children, were killed in al-Qubair village near the central city of Hama.
Syria`s state TV was quick to defend the government, saying the massacre was designed to tarnish and frame the Syrian administration a night before a scheduled meeting of the UN Security Council.
The latest bloodletting took place barely a fortnight after more than 100 people were killed in Houla over two days May 25-26.
Terrorists are "taking advantage of the situation", Abbas told journalists here.
He blamed militant groups for the fresh killing that took place as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on China and Russia to use their influence on Damascus to stop the Syrian bloodshed.
"Hundreds of militants came together in an organised and systematic way around the massacre region. They were carrying heavy weapons including anti-tank missiles...they attacked simultaneously...”
He said that the Syrian Army was outside the massacre region and it clashed with the armed terrorist militia.
"...no tank went into the region. Syrian Army was at a condition of self-defence using maximum level of self-restraint," he said.
The envoy said: "...the crime was a pre-planned terrorist crime targeted (at) innocent Syrian nationals".
He said that the mass killings took place "prior to any meeting of the Security Council and in conjunction with the visit of (UN Special envoy to Syria) Kofi Annan".
He, however, sounded a warning note.
"If they are forcing war on us, we are ready to take the challenge," he said.
The news of the killing came a day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered former agriculture minister Riyad Farid Hijab to form a new government for the conflict-stricken country.
The formation of a new government for the violence-torn country came after the recent Parliamentary Elections, the first under the country`s new Constitution that allows a multi-party law and ends the monopoly of power by the ruling al-Baath party.
Hijab, the 46-year-old new prime minister, replaced Adel Safar, who was appointed as premier in April 2011 after Assad sacked his cabinet in one of a series of concessions in the face of anti-government protests.
The Assad administration`s gestures have done little to stem 15 months of deadly violence and the internal conflict has shown no sign of abating despite all-out diplomatic efforts by the international community.