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Isolated by the army of President Bashar al-Assad, Hama was subjected to death and terror to those who live there.
But for residents of the Syrian city of Hama, last week there was little chance to exercise such purely peaceful devotion. Isolated for weeks by tanks and armoured units of the army of President Bashar al-Assad, from Sunday onwards Hama was subjected to a vicious onslaught that has brought death and terror to those who live there.
“The regime is killing us, and no-one will stop Assad,” one desperate health worker told The Sunday Telegraph. “This is our message: stop the killing. We want freedom, only freedom. We want to be treated like human beings.”
The attack finally persuaded the United Nations Security Council to approve a statement deploring the regime’s use of force against civilians, after long prevarication by Russia and China. But the decision has no legal force, and – after a week in which up to 250 people are said to have been killed in Hama alone – the health worker was blunt: “They only give us words, and words are not enough.”
It is almost impossible for outside observers to gain access to the city, once a centre for tourism but a focus of growing anti-regime protests over the past few months. Almost all communications have now been cut off, along with water and electricity.
Yet in clandestine conversations with some of the few residents with satellite telephones, The Sunday Telegraph pieced together a frightening picture of life – and death – inside Hama.