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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'