Armed activists encroach on Assad’s stronghold

Armed activists encroach on Assad’s stronghold

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Watch Tim Whewell’s report from the secret protests of Damascus

Newsnight’s Tim Whewell has just returned from Syria where he managed to give his government minders the slip and meet armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad regime established inside the Syrian capital.

To meet the Syrian opposition is to enter a cloak-and-dagger world most of us know only from novels – a world of coded messages, of silent rendezvous, of constant, exhausting fear.

In our hotel – where visiting journalists are always given the same rooms, almost certainly bugged – we turned the television up loud before discussing any plans in a whisper. We scribbled sensitive names on scraps of paper, rather than referred to them in speech.

Anti-Assad protester

The protests are guarded by members of the Free Syrian Army

We avoided making phone calls, instead making arrangements on Skype, which is much harder to monitor.

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