Britain and US recall embassy staff

Hague to tell ambassador of his 'abhorrence at violence' following crackdown in Homs

Damascus

Britain and the US rounded on the Syrian government yesterday, recalling embassy staff and issuing stern warnings to the regime to end its fierce crackdown on dissent. The move came as a renewed assault on the opposition stronghold of Homs was reported to have left dozens more people dead.

The surge in violence prompted the US to close its embassy in Damascus and pull all American diplomats out of the country. William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, said he had summoned the Syrian ambassador in London to express his "abhorrence at violence that is utterly unacceptable to the civilised world". Mr Hague also said in a statement to the House of Commons that he was recalling the British ambassador in Damascus for consultations, after the breakdown at the UN on Saturday of a united diplomatic front.

The double veto by China and Russia of the Arab League-backed plan calling on all sides to halt violence and for a peaceful transition of power has left Arab and Western nations scratching their heads over the best way to proceed. The US has called for a "Friends of Syria" group to be set up to help unite the opposition groups and provide more humanitarian aid, but Western leaders remain adamant that military action is not on the table.

"Not every situation is going to allow for the kind of military solution we saw with Libya," said Barack Obama.

China's foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, yesterday defended its use of the veto, saying the draft resolution went to the vote before the text had been agreed by all nations, while Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, is due in Syria today for talks with President Bashar al-Assad. He will be arriving during some of the fiercest fighting since protests against the authoritarian regime erupted last March. The UN says more than 5,600 people have been killed during the demonstrations.

Al-Jazeera television shows footage taken by activists showing explosions and plumes of smoke rising from what they said were neighbourhoods of Homs. In central Damascus, it was business as usual with roads snarled with traffic and a light security presence. But some reports suggested that just 20 miles outside the capital there was fierce shelling of the mountain town of Zabadani, which came under effective rebel control in January.

While Zabadani is one of a handful of Damascus neighbourhoods which have seen outbursts of unrest, Homs –- about 100 miles north of the capital – appears to have become the centre of armed resistance. On Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday, sustained shelling of the city is reported to have killed up to 200 people.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Businessman at desk circa 1950s
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: Linux Systems Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of UK Magento hosting so...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Development Manager - North Kent - OTE £19K

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this secondary s...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea