Hundreds gunned down in the streets. Jails packed to overflowing. A ruthless dictatorship brutalising its own people in order to cling on to power. As a description of recent events in Bashar Assad's Syria, you'd be hard pushed to paint a clearer picture.
The capture of an arms shipment from Syria, bound for Gaza, revealed attempts by Hamas to obtain advanced capabilities with which to threaten Israeli shipping and natural gas installations in the Mediterranean.
The German-owned Victoria, a container-ship on a routine voyage through ports in the eastern Mediterranean, took on a shipment in the Syrian port of Latakia on Monday.
William Hague has called on Syria to “support efforts towards a comprehensive peace with Israel”.
Mr Hague, who is in Syria for his first official visit as Foreign Secretary, also said that the British government’s position is to oppose settlement building and support Syria’s claim on the Golan Heights, which have been under Israeli control for 44 years.
The British government is refusing to release documents which could shed light on the fate of three Israeli soldiers missing since 1982 because it says sensitive information could harm diplomatic relations with Syria.
On June 11 1982, three Israeli soldiers went missing after a battle with Syrian and Palestinian forces near the Lebanese village of Sultan Yaqub in the last moments of the Lebanon war. Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman, all in their 20s at the time, are still officially MIA - missing in action.
The Islamic extremist preacher Omar Bakri – who once called for the death of Sir Paul McCartney for playing in Israel – has been sentenced to life in prison in Lebanon.
The Syrian-born cleric was sentenced in his absence at a military court in Lebanon for allegedly helping train members of Al Qaeda at a camp in Tripoli. He is currently in hiding with relatives in Lebanon.
The Israeli government is worried that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon next week could signal the start of an escalation on its northern border.
Mr Ahmadinejad is scheduled to arrive on October 13 for a two-day visit. His itinerary includes a tour of towns and villages in the south of Lebanon where heavy fighting took place between the IDF and Hizbollah during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. According to some reports, the Iranian president may even take part in symbolic stone-throwing towards Israeli soldiers on the border.