On Thursday, May 31, the Syrian government's investigative committee issued its preliminary report on the al-Houla massacre. General Qassem Jamal Suleiman, head of the investigation, held a press conference at the Syrian foreign ministry to provide some details of the investigation to date. The preliminary findings were also presented to General Robert Mood, the head of the United Nations/Arab League observer mission.
According to General Suleiman, the massacre was preceded by an attack by armed rebels on five law enforcement posts around al-Houla. He said that between 600-800 well-armed men gathered in al-Houla after the Friday prayers and launched the attacks on the law enforcement posts in an effort to secure the area as a rebel-controlled area. While the Syrian police were pinned down in a battle with the rebels, who had machine guns, anti-tank rockets and mortars, other armed rebels carried out the massacre, which he said began with the targeting of the family of Peoples Assembly member Abdul-Moa'ti Mashlab, but soon extended to other families.
The details provided by General Suleiman were consistent with the initial report delivered on Sunday, May 27 by Dr. Bashar Jaafari, Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations, immediately following the Security Council emergency session. Dr. Jaafari condemned the massacre, announced the investigation, and described the attacks on the police posts and the deployment of heavily armed anti-regime forces.