Geneva: The UN`s top human rights official warned on Friday that all-out civil war could engulf Syria unless countries back international envoy Kofi Annan`s peace plan and calls for an independent probe into the killing of more than 100 civilians last week in the Arab country.
As countries lined up at an emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council to express their horror about the Houla massacre, in which the global body said 49 children were among the dead, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights appealed for support for the six-point plan to halt the violence in Syria.
"Otherwise, the situation in Syria might descend into a full-fledged conflict and the future of the country, as well as the region as a whole could be in grave danger," Navi Pillay told the 47-nation council in a speech read out on her behalf.
It was the fourth time that the Geneva-based council called an urgent meeting on Syria, something the country`s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Fayssal al-Hamwi, said was a sign that some countries are trying to divide his country.
Al-Hamwi, too, condemned the massacre in Houla but blamed it on "groups of armed terrorists" seeking to ignite sectarian strife.
US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said there was no doubt that the regime of President Bashar Assad was responsible for the killing.
"There needs to be justice and accountability for those that committed these atrocities," she told the council.
A draft resolution proposed by Qatar, Turkey and the United States condemns the killings in Houla and states that "those responsible for serious violations of human rights must be held accountable," but doesn`t suggest how.