The Syrian government released 500 political prisoners on Thursday, as shelling was reported in Houla, the site a deadly massacre less than a week ago. The Syrian rebels on Thursday called for a Friday deadline for a ceasefire as United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan's attempts to broker a peace deal stalled. The U.N. observers had reported finding 13 dead bodies bound and killed execution-style on Wednesday, shortly after Western nations coordinated an effort to expel all Syrian diplomats. More than 100 people were killed in Houla on Friday, with reports that shadowy men had went door-to-door and slaughtered people in their homes. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said that if the Security Council cannot deliver action to end the violence, the member states may have to act outside the U.N.