The three-month uprising has proved stunningly resilient despite a relentless crackdown by the military, the pervasive security forces and pro-regime gunmen. Human rights activists say more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained as Assad desperately tries to maintain his grip on power.
"What is our guilt? We just demanded freedom and democracy nothing else," said Mohamed, 27, who spoke to The Associated Press from a refugee camp in neighbouring Turkey where nearly 10,000 Syrians have fled.
Mohamed, who asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of reprisals, and other refugees offered harrowing accounts of the regime''s bombardment.
"I saw people who were beheaded with machine-gun fire from helicopters," and a man tortured to death when security forces poured acid on his body, he said.
He said a sugar factory in Jisr al-Shughour was turned into a jail where they "hold quick trials and execute anyone who they believe participated in protests." Jisr al-Shughour was a town that was spinning out of government control before the military recaptured it last Sunday.
UN envoy Angelina Jolie travelled to Turkey's border with Syria today to meet some of the refugees, and she was greeted by a 45-foot-long banner that read: "Goodness Angel of the World, Welcome" in English and Turkish.
Police prevented media coverage of the visit.