Syria defies pressure from neighbour as death toll rises

An increasingly isolated Syrian regime defied a message yesterday from one of its former allies to end its deadly crackdown on protesters calling for an end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Baathist regime continued its military campaign as the Turkish Foreign Minister delivered a stern message during a two-hour meeting and international envoys queued up to demand the end of the five-month repression that has left more than 2,000 people dead, according to rights groups.

Despite the intervention of regional neighbours including the influential King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, analysts predicted that Syria would only show restraint when its oil revenues and business interests were targeted and other Arab nations sided against the Assad regime. Representatives from India, Brazil and South Africa headed to Damascus yesterday to plead with President Assad for an end to the latest bloody wave of killings which erupted on 1 August, the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The intervention yesterday of Ankara's Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, came after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait to withdrew their ambassadors from Damascus.

Since unrest broke out in March, European leaders and the US have targeted key Syrian figures with a raft of sanctions. Yet Bashar al-Assad, whose family has controlled Syria since his father seized power in 1971, appears to have ignored calls for restraint which are now emanating from capitals across the Arab world. An editorial in the Baath party newspaper said the government was hopeful that Turkey and the Gulf nations would "quickly correct their stands" even as the military continued to attack rebellious cities.

A statement from the Local Co-ordination Committees, a network of activists which helps track incidents across the country, claimed snipers had shot dead five children in the city of Hama yesterday. Another three people were killed in Homs, it said, though because journalists are banned from Syria it was impossible to verify the claims.

In the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, which was stormed by tanks and troops on Sunday, activists said buildings were in flames after being pounded by heavy shelling. A father-of-two who spoke to The Independent by phone from Deir el-Zour said he welcomed the recent action from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, but that more was needed. "I want to see an international army in Syria," he said. "Our own army is killing us, so we need international soldiers."

Joshua Landis, who runs the Syria Comment news website, said that by targeting oil exports – which account for around 50 per cent of government revenues – Europe's leaders could bring down the regime. One third of Syrian oil is heavy crude which can only be refined in Europe, he said. "They could take the decision not to accept Syrian crude in their refineries, as Russian and China don't have the capacity for it."

Mr Landis added that the Gulf countries could heap further pressure on Syria by targeting the regime's business portfolios in the region. "If Dubai said 'we're going to take away your criminal enterprises' then that would hammer the regime," he explained.

Rime Allaf, a Syria analyst from the Chatham House think tank, said Saudi Arabia's decision to pull the rug from beneath the Syrians could lead the rest of the Arab world to follow suit. "If the Gulf countries decide together that the Syrian regime has gone too far and is causing more instability, then I think the regime cannot survive any more simply with the support of Iran."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
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: Hotel Reception Manager

£18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

Recruitment Genius: Designer

£32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Engineer

£35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence