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Words useless as 'single bloodiest event' rocks Syria

It is hard to know what to say about the latest horrors being reported from Syria. Or rather what words to use. Some 16,000 dead now; the world has long run out of adjectives to describe the blood-letting. But if the killings in a Tremseh are indeed on the scale claimed by opposition activists, then this is the bloodiest single event in a blood-drenched year.

A young man wounded from shelling in Taramseh in Syria Credit: RTV

Worse than the massacre of 108 civilians in Houla in May. Worse than the slaughter of 78 people, so many of the victims women and children, in Qubair last month. We are appalled by the violence, and the testimony that will begin to emerge with survivors.

Tremseh is located within the 'rebellious' area of Hama, north of Homs. Credit: ITV News

But we are no longer shocked. Syria's only capacity to surprise would be if the killings were to come to an end. Or, it seems almost as improbable; if the international community were to agree an effective response. The United Nations has a week to renew the mandate of its Syrian observer corp. No one uses the term peace-monitors anymore. There never was a ceasefire worthy of the name.

You may find some images in John Ray's report distressing:

Britain has tabled a fresh resolution that would arm the security council's words with sanctions. Russia remains opposed. Some see tentative signs that Moscow's support for the Assad government is more nuanced that it was. It's a theory that will be tested when Kofi Annan arrives there for talks on Monday.

Amateur footage purports to show tanks outside the village of Tremseh in Syria Credit: Amateur video / RTV

The past week has seen two high profile defections from the Syrian regime. First, General Manaf Tlass, one time republican guard commander and friend of Bashar Al-Assad. And then, the ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf al-Fares.

Both men are from leading Sunni families close to the Alawite regime; their departure another sign that Syria is lurching ever closer to all-out sectarian war. Mr al-Fares is quoted in an interview with Al-Jazeera today dismissing the UN peace plan and instead calling for the violent overthrow of the Assad clan.

He might be in a position to do something about it. He is the head of an important tribe based in the east of the country which has so far largely sat out the uprising. If that changes, then the military balance that locks Syria in such a blood-embrace might swing too in favour of the rebels.

Meanwhile the UN has only words to condemn the violence. Words we've heard before. Words that have long proved useless.

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