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PM frustrated over Syria slaughter

David Cameron has spoken of his frustration at Britain's inability to do more to prevent the slaughter in Syria.

The Prime Minister said work was under way to ensure president Bashar Assad and his regime could be held legally responsible for the brutal repression.

But Britain had to be realistic about its capacity to intervene directly, he cautioned - insisting the situation was different from Libya.

Syria was sliding closer to all-out civil war as rebels sought to more formally organise their resistance in the face of an intensified bombardment by government forces on the city of Homs.

The rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation led the UK to announce that it had withdrawn its diplomatic staff from Syria and closed the Damascus embassy. Foreign Secretary William Hague, announcing the decision to MPs, urged those fighting for the Assad regime to lay down their arms.

Mr Cameron, who Downing Street said would raise the issue at the European Council summit in Brussels, said the international community was trying to exert "maximum pressure on Assad and his dreadful regime".

"We've been pushing for resolutions at the UN, we've been working with the Syrian opposition to try and encourage them to be more inclusive," he told Channel 5 News. "I think we have to keep up that pressure. But ... there are big differences between the situation in Libya and the situation in Syria.

"The biggest difference, of course, being we had the express permission of the Arab League and the United Nations to take all possible measures, to take the military action that we took."

He hit out at Russia and China for blocking a UN Security Council resolution backing an Arab League peace plan. "But above all we have got to hold Assad responsible," he said. "There is a role for Britain and for others right now to start collecting the evidence to make sure we hold this man to account for what he does no matter how long it takes.

"Britain is doing this now, building a picture to show these are crimes against humanity and this man may need to be held to account for that. That is very important. It is extremely frustrating that we cannot do more. The scenes that we have seen on our televisions are appalling."


From Belfast Telegraph