He said the UN Mission in Syria must be able to access the village “quickly and without hindrance” in order to “carry out an independent investigation into what has happened and who is responsible”.
British diplomats in New York will continue negotiations with the Security Council on a resolution later on Friday.
“We will redouble our efforts to agree a Chapter VII Resolution of the United Nations Security Council. This would compel the Syrian regime to fulfil the commitments it has made under the Annan Plan, to withdraw its military from residential areas, and establish a transitional government as called for by Kofi Annan and endorsed by the P5 and Arab League,” said Mr Hague in a statement.
“It should be a legally binding Security Council Resolution with teeth, that creates a trigger for sanctions if the Assad regime does not comply.
“Our thoughts are with the Syrian people, and all those who have suffered as a result of this latest atrocity. More than 17,000 people have died already. The time has come for decisive diplomatic action to bring about a peaceful end to the violence. All members of the Security Council must shoulder their responsibility to bring this about.”
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Friday’s shelling in the city of Houla, in central Homs province, had led to what seemed to be one of the bloodiest episodes so far of the 15-month long uprising.
Amateur videos posted on YouTube showed images of children lying dead on a floor. Some of their corpses badly mangled, including at least one child whose head had been partly blown away.
The latest flare-up of violence came as Kofi Annan, the United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria who brokered a repeatedly violated ceasefire last month, finalised plans to return to Damascus.
The fresh claims of regime atrocities led the opposition Syrian National Council to call on the UN Security Council to take urgent action. At the same time, the Observatory accused the Arab and international communities of being “complicit” in the killing, saying that shelling that had begun on Friday had continued into the night. The Observatory said the international community was standing “silent in the face of the massacres committed by the Syrian regime.”
Mr Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general who has tried to broker an accord, told the Security Council that the regime had not pulled its troops and heavy equipment out of towns and cities by today, as demanded.
“It is essential that the next 48 hours bring visible signs of immediate and indisputable change in the military posture of the government forces throughout the country, as called upon by the six-point plan,” a letter read to the council said. He added that Syria was demanding a guarantee that the rebels lay down their arms and disband, and a commitment by regional nations not to arm them.
These requirements were not part of his original plan, Mr Annan said.
As regime forces continued to shell towns and cities, including allegations of aerial bombardment, Britain and other Western powers called for Mr Assad to be censured by the UN. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said he wanted the Security Council to refer Mr Assad to the International Criminal Court. “President Assad and his closest cronies should be under no doubt that they will be held to account for their actions,” he said.
The Security Council called for the Syrian government to make a “fundamental change of course” to end hostilities by 6am Damascus time Thursday.