Assad losing Arab support

Isolated: Assad

Isolated: Assad

Syria is rapidly losing the support of other Arab nations as its army continues to attack cities and towns where there are supporters of democracy.

In a blow to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that it was recalling its envoy from Damascus. The Saudis cited their concern over the crackdown on protesters in major cities the previous week, including Hama and Deir a-Zoor, despite the start of Ramadan. Human rights groups are now estimating the number of civilians killed since demonstrations broke out five months ago at over 2,000.

Kuwait also announced it was recalling its ambassador, while the Arab League expressed "growing concern" over the events in Syria.

Another former Syrian ally to criticise the regime has been Turkey, which in recent years strove to improve the relations between the two countries. The Turkish government has sheltered over 10,000 refugees and allowed Syrian opposition parties to operate openly.

The main exception to the breaking of ranks among Syria's former Muslim allies is Iran. Not only has Iran continued to defend Mr Assad, the Islamist republic is also believed by intelligence sources to be aiding the Syrian security forces with equipment and advisers.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said last week: "President Assad's fate has been sealed." He added that he was not sure if Assad's departure would be a good thing for Israel. "None of us know what will come afterwards."

Last updated: 1:03pm, August 11 2011