Death in the orchards: the crumbling of the Syrian regime

Hundreds of Syrian troops and allied fighters have been mown down in painful defeats in the last week, as regime falters

Syrian rebel leaders have described massacres of hundreds Assad troops and fighters in grim detail as the regime’s defences begin to crumble in the face of revived attacks on several fronts.

President Bashar al-Assad had promised to rescue hundreds of his men who were surrounded in a last stand at a hospital in the key north-western town of Jisr al-Shughour.

Eventually, the men tried to run for it under the cover of a regime aerial attack, pre-empting a final assault by rebels including Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and other Islamist groups.

Instead, many of the soldiers were shot down as they were cornered in orchards on the edge of town, a rebel spokesman said.