Free prisoners or I go to bed hungry: Syria cartoon

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Syrian cartoonists on Friday mocked an ultimatum by opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib to President Bashar al-Assad that women prisoners must be freed by Sunday or he will withdraw an offer of peace talks.

One cartoon circulating on Facebook pages of activists shows Khatib pointing to a trembling Assad, saying: “If you do not release the arrested women by Sunday, I will go to sleep without dinner!”

The ultimatum by Khatib, head of the National Coalition, came after Damascus ignored his offer for talks and instead stepped up its military assault on rebels in the Damascus area and in the north.

Khatib found himself out on a limb when the Syrian National Council, an influential component of the Coalition, distanced itself from his offer of conditional talks, which flew in the face of long-standing opposition demands that Assad step down before dialogue can begin.

Many analysts see his demand that all women prisoners be freed as a face-saving exercise as Assad is highly unlikely to meet the condition.

Meanwhile, activists in Homs province posted a separate video to YouTube showing an interview with a resident of the town of Rastan scoffing at Khatib’s proposal.

“What kind of dialogue are they talking about? He needs to go, that’s it. (Assad) is lying to us, his own people. Enough is enough,” the man in the video says as he and two young children huddle beside a fire in the town which has seen daily bombings and an army siege for more than a year.

“What is talk going to do about this destruction and the shells every day? The only thing I want to hear is that the bombing has stopped,” he says in the video.

Casting a lighter note on the diplomatic impasse over the Syrian conflict, another cartoon being circulated on social media shows Washington in the form of “Uncle Sam” scapegoating Russia for refusing to put pressure on Assad’s regime.

“Putin holds the key to Syria’s solution,” says the caption to a picture showing Russian President Vladimir Putin swallowing a key while an Israeli official gives the thumbs-up.

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