Assad 'hell-bent on murdering' Syrians, says David Cameron
Ahead of nationwide protests against Russian veto, ambassador offers eye-witness account of brutality
PRESSURE is building on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to halt the deadly crackdown that has caused the deaths of more than 400 people over the last six days in the city of Homs alone.
While the leaders of Britain and America have expressed their disgust, the departing British Ambassador to Damascus has given an eye-witness account of the unprovoked brutality of Assad's soldiers.
Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the "toughest possible response" from the international community and for "transition and change" in Syria.
"It's quite clear that this is a regime that is hell-bent on killing, murdering and maiming its own citizens," he said. "It really is appalling, the scenes of destruction in Homs."
President Barack Obama slammed the "outrageous bloodshed" in Syria and called for a "transition from the current government that has been assaulting its people".
While the focus has been on Homs in recent days, Simon Collis, who until his withdrawal this week was Britain's Ambassador in Syria, has given a first-person account of life for opposition protesters in Damascus.
Describing a violent attack by security forces on a group of 40 peaceful protesters, he writes: "They made no provocative chants and advocated no violence. They simply held up pictures of their friends and family members that had been held in detention for months or years without trial. It was a scene of dignified and peaceful protest.
"After ten minutes, the regime had had enough. Plain-clothed security forces moved in en masse. We stood and watched as they beat innocent civilians with sticks and batons."
In an apparent rebuke to those who question the veracity of YouTube videos purporting to depict the violence in Syria, Collis added: "Without context, it can be hard to make sense of YouTube images shot on a mobile phone. It can be hard to believe that over 5,000 people have been killed in ten months...
"If I hadn't seen for myself what the Syrian regime has done, I would be asking these questions too. But I have. And it is too shocking to ignore." ·