Ashton to attend Syria summit


EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has confirmed she will attend the first meeting of the “Friends of Syria” in Tunisia on 24th February.

Mrs Ashton's decision to attend the meeting was announced at the European Parliament in Strasbourg as a 23-year-old Syrian blogger Danny Abdul Dayem pleaded with MEPS to support military aid for revolutionaries in Syria.

Mr Dayem, who escaped from the Syrian city of Homs, has become famous for posting videos of suffering in the besieged city. He was a guest of the Alliance for Liberal Democrats (ALDE).

Typically, his videos depict dead and wounded civilians lying or fleeing in the streets and come with messages such as: “This is the life we got used to: rockets, bullets, killing children, dead in the streets, body parts. In one a written commentary asks: “Why isn’t anyone helping us? Why isn’t anyone doing anything?”

Describing life in Homs, Mr Dayem said 40,000 people were under constant shelling by forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. He said children were being kidnapped, women raped and men were being imprisoned and tortured to death “by the Assad forces just for fun.”

Mr Dayem said the population were under constant fear of snipers and people were dying from bullet wounds as they had no access to medicine. There were he said two hospitals and just five doctors.

“We can’t get doctors in. They [the president’s forces] will stop them. They will torture and kill them. He said Red Crescent ambulances have been coming under fire," he said. “These are not the Syrian Army they are Assad forces. We are the free Syrian army. We need to stop talking. Since the UN gave [Dr] Assad the green light the situation has got worse."

Mr Dayem said he had been shot last year. “Every family has someone dead. We need help. We can’t defeat Assad on our own. We need a no fly zone. If our Syrian Army had weapons we could defeat Assad.”

But he warned: “If it doesn’t come believe me there is going to be a massacre. He is going to kill everyone."

Mr Dayem, who has British ancestry, said government soldiers were attempting to stress divisions in society but there was no sectarian divide. “They paint slogans on churches saying 'Christians you are next' and the next day the same soldiers are cleaning it off.”

He added that soldiers “would defect to the revolutionaries but they need arms. They are no good without arms”.

A spokesman for Mrs Ashton said she would attend the meeting as “a member of the international community”.

Mrs Ashton will also meet US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Washington this week, to discuss the Syrian crisis.