French call for Assad to be 'smashed fast'

 

Beirut

The French foreign minister yesterday levelled a scathing tirade at the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after meeting with refugees, calling for his regime to be "smashed fast".

Speaking after a visit to refugee camps in Turkey, Laurent Fabius accused Assad of trying to carry out the "destruction of an entire people".

The strong words came as the UN warned of a new influx of refugees amid devastating airstrikes and dire humanitarian conditions on the ground, as fresh water supplies are compromised. "After hearing the refugees and their account of the massacres of the regime, Mr Bashar al-Assad doesn't deserve to be on this earth," said Mr Fabius.

Syrian activists meanwhile claimed they had made a gruesome discovery of about 65 bodies in a rubbish dump in the Damascus suburbs, victims they believe to have been rounded up as the regime raided houses in the area. A video posted online showed the scorched corpses, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

The French foreign minister had travelled from Lebanon where he expressed concern about the conflict spilling over amid a spate of kidnappings. The powerful Lebanese Meqdad clan kidnapped as many 50 people, largely Syrians after one of their relatives was abducted by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) across the border.

Maher Meqdad, a spokesman for the clan, said yesterday that 21 hostages had been released because it was decided they were not linked to the FSA. It is not clear how many they still hold.

While concern was being raised of a spillover from Syria to Lebanon, a bizarre turn of events saw things go the other way. It emerged yesterday that the bemused passengers of an Air France flight that was diverted from the Lebanese capital Beirut due to unrest in the city, only to touch down in war-torn Damascus instead, were asked to chip in to help pay for the plane to be refuelled.

The Boeing 777, carrying 176 passengers, was supposed to be rerouted to the Jordanian capital Amman, but couldn't secure a flight path and was forced to land in the Syrian capital due to lack of fuel. During a two-hour wait on the runway the crew then asked how much money was on board after the airport demanded a cash payment, likely due to concerns that any credit card transaction may not be processed due to financial sanctions. The airline said that it eventually reached an alternative arrangement.

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