Recently I received an e-mail from a constituent about the bloodshed in Syria.  She said: "I am angry and upset that children are dying yet again, and we seem to choose to be powerless to intervene.  If the British government were doing this in Sussex, I would want other nations to come and make it stop".

President Bashar al-Assad's government has always had a poor record on human rights and freedom of speech, but we are now seeing terrible abuses in the escalating conflict.

It began in April last year when pro-democracy protestors were shot at by government forces.  The Syrian army then began to besiege areas that were seen to express pro-democracy views.

But those not involved in protests have also been attacked.  Notoriously, at Houla 34 unarmed women and 49 children were executed by government militia. 

This was arguably the worst atrocity, but conflict is widespread, and the estimated total casualties now stand at over 30,000.  The UN believes that 1.5 million people now need humanitarian assistance.

However moved we are by the images of suffering which we see, Britain cannot intervene alone.  The kind of military intervention we saw in Libya would be highly problematic, not least because Syria has significant military capability.

And regrettably the UN Security Council remains divided.  China and Russia have blocked three separate Security Council Resolutions which would have threatened the Syrian government with binding sanctions if they did not agree to the UN Peace Plan.

The British Government is nevertheless doing what it can.  We have pledged a further non-military support for the Syrian opposition, and we are working with representatives of the Free Syrian Army to ensure that they are ready for the day when Assad's regime does inevitably fall. 

We are providing humanitarian assistance on the ground while diplomacy continues.  We have quadrupled British aid for Syrian refugees and are helping to feed over 80,000 Syrians every month in the areas we can access.

We are also seeking to up the diplomatic pressure on the regime, and we are pushing for new EU sanctions.

I do not yet know how this situation will be resolved.  I wish we could do more to stop the suffering of the Syrian people.  Yet the only certainty right now is that the Assad regime cannot continue much longer.

Christopher N Howarth