The Washington Post

Robert Ford and Simon Collis, ambassadors to Syria, bash Assad online

The British and U.S. ambassadors to Syria are fed up.

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, British Ambassador to Syria Simon Collis (Bassem Tellawi - AP/Benoit Tessier - Reuters/Foreign and Commonwealth Office's photostream)

“The truth is what big brother says it is,” British Ambassador to Syria Simon Collis wrote Monday on a new embassy blog devoted to discussing the problems in Syria.

“Have any Syrian security members been punished for killing unarmed protesters or torturing prisoners?” U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford asked on the embassy Facebook page earlier this month. The government’s “repressive actions are triggering a lot of the violence... they need to stop it,” Ford reiterated in an interview published Wednesday in TIME Magazine,

The outspoken criticism comes a month after Ford was attacked in the street by a government supporter. Last week, a woman was found beheaded and mutilated, apparently by security forces, and opposition figures, trying to present a united front, called for the crackdown to stop. And on Tuesday, government troops fired machine guns on a town in central Syria, and a captain in the Syrian army defected to the protester side.

Collis says he started the blog to counteract the regime’s efforts to “pull the shutters down,” and to provide context those grainy videos of the violence that appear on YouTube.

The blog is full of full of strong statements: “The Syrian regime doesn’t want you to know that its security forces and the gangs that support them are killing, arresting and abusing mostly peaceful protesters.” It’s peppered with snarky comments: “Is it a bird, is it a bullet? It’s Syria’s new media law!” And it presses for action: “The regime wants to create its own truth. We should not let it.”

Ford is more restrained, taking time to answer the questions on the embassy Facebook page about U.S. involvement in Syria.

“A government that wants to build credibility on human rights and reform has to start sometime and somewhere with concrete steps,” he writes.

But he reiterates to TIME that the answer is not for the opposition to take up arms.

“I very frankly say to people, you don't have enough force to fight the Syrian army, you're not even close. We have to be realistic,” he says.


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