Envoy attacks Syria regime violence

 

Britain's ambassador to Syria has hit out at the regime's “shocking” violence against its own people.

Simon Collis described seeing security forces beat 40 peaceful protesters in the centre of the capital.

The intervention came as David Cameron pledged to maintain the pressure on Bashar Assad and his government.

In a blog on the Foreign Office website, Mr Collis - who was recalled from Damascus for consultations earlier this week - wrote: "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 10 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."

Mr Collis went on: "Without context, it can be hard to make sense of YouTube images shot on a mobile phone.

"It can be hard to understand why a man with a family in a town in Syria would decide to take up arms against his government.

"It can be hard to believe that over 5,000 people have been killed in 10 months, or that torture is a regular occurrence in prisons, children brutalised and tanks and mortars used by the army against its own citizens.

"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."

Speaking at an international gathering in Sweden, Mr Cameron said he was determined to see the "toughest possible response" to the brutality.

"It really is appalling, the scenes of destruction in Homs, and it is quite clear that this is a regime hell-bent on killing, murdering and maiming its own citizens," he said.

"Which is why we need to take the toughest possible response we can - a tough response at the United Nations, which we have, and I was very disappointed obviously by the Russian and Chinese veto.

"We also need to work with the opposition to try and help shape their future and assist them in whatever way we can.

"And we also need to put together the strongest possible contact group of like-minded nations.

"We will continue the pressure upon this regime."

The Syrian army has reportedly launched fresh mortar and rocket attacks in Homs, killing scores of people, as the government continues a push aimed at crushing rebel forces.

The city has been a leading focus of unrest in the 11-month uprising against President al-Assad.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned the "appalling brutality" of the onslaught.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent