Early yesterday morning, Syrian activists found the mangled corpse of four-month-old Afaf al-Saraqba on the side of the road in Homs. Regime forces tortured the baby girl to death in front of her activist father. There are no words for this, only one question: when is it to end?
To make him speak
For 10 months, the Assad regime has suppressed a nationwide democratic rebellion. Thousands have been killed, tens of thousands detained. Pro-democracy activists have borne the brunt of the state's wrath. One of those activists is Mahmoud al-Saraqba.
He was known to the regime and life for his family had become too dangerous in the battleground city of Homs. Saraqba and his family tried to escape 17 days ago but they were caught. There had been no word from them: then came yesterday's message, in the form of Afaf's little body. Afaf's uncle came forward to claim the corpse. And now three sources have confirmed the unthinkable.
"[Mahmoud] was trying to escape because the security forces knew where he lived," fellow activist and family friend Omar told Avaaz. "They caught them on the road to Tartous, and they tortured his baby girl to make him speak about what he knows and hand over names of activists ... They crushed Mahmoud using his daughter. They tortured and killed his baby in front of him."
The fate of Mahmoud and his wife is unknown.
Assad vows 'to hit with an iron fist'
The same day that Afaf's body was found, Assad delivered a public speech: it is only his third since the uprising began. In the two-hour affair, he nodded to the familiar yet unfulfilled reforms he's promised for a decade since leaving his London ophthalmology practice to inherit the Syrian dictatorship.
Unmentioned were the uprising's 6,874 deaths and the 69,000 detained. Instead Assad vowed to plough ahead with the crackdown: "to hit with an iron fist". Like Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak before him, he blamed Syria's woes on foreign conspiracies and terrorists.
Assad also lashed out against the Arab League, which has sent a small team of observers into the country. The Arab League has failed for six decades to take a position in the Arab interest, he said. He made no mention of the two Kuwaiti observers who were attacked by a pro-Assad mob in Latakia.
Observers break the silence
There is no shortage of horror stories emerging from Syria: attacks on ambulances, schools as detention centres, the murder of children. Avaaz has painstakingly detailed and drawn attention to these crimes. Now members of the Arab League's observation mission are finally doing the same.
Anwar Malik, a former observer, has resigned from the mission. Here's what he told Al-Jazeera: "The mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled ... What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime is not just committing one war crime, but a series of crimes against its people."
What more do we need to act?
Take action: The UN, the Arab League and our own governments have all failed to bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria, but we must keep trying. Join the 280,000 Avaaz members who are calling for the regime to be referred to the International Criminal Court.