BEIRUT -- Thirteen bound corpses, many apparently shot execution-style, have been found in eastern Syria, UN observers said yesterday, days after the massacre of more than 100 people provoked international outrage and the coordinated expulsion of Syrian diplomats from world capitals.

The bodies were found late Tuesday in Deir el-Zour province, blindfolded with hands tied behind them. The UN mission said some appeared to have been shot in the head at close range.

A video posted online by activists showed men lying face-down, pools of dried blood under their heads.

The head of the UN observer team, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, said he was "deeply disturbed by this appalling and inexcusable act."

The fresh killings underline violence that seems to be spiraling out of control as the uprising against President Bashar Assad has morphed into an armed insurgency. As many as 13,000 people are said to have been killed.

After last weekend's massacre in Houla, in which nearly half of the 108 dead were children, the United States and Western nations expelled Syrian diplomats, a move Syria's state-run media denounced yesterday.

The massacre drew continued harsh criticism, even from Iran, Syria's closest ally, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying anyone responsible for the killings should be punished. "I'm not excluding anyone from this responsibility," he told France 24 TV station.

The UN's top human rights body planned a special session Friday to address the Houla massacre.

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