Pro-government supporters were out in force in Syria as a deadline for dialogue came and went.
President Bashar al-Assad has shown no sign of easing his crackdown on those wanting him to quit despite a call by the Arab League for talks.
In fact, the increasing international criticism has provoked a robust defence from the Syrian leader to foreign media.
The president told Russian television: “When our country is facing military threats, when it is a threat to our security, the talk of a balanced use of force become senseless. It does not matter in this case who is strong and who is weak.”
In the last few days, Syrian tanks have pounded an old district in the city of Homs. Activists say troops have shot dead 40 civilians in one of the bloodiest weekends of the seven-month-old uprising against Assad’s regime.