16/03/2012 09:01 GMT | Updated 16/05/2012 06:12 BST

Syria: Emails Suggest London Doctor Advised Assad On Suppressing Evidence Of Torture

A London doctor advised the Syrian regime on how to suppress images of children being tortured by soldiers, leaked emails have shown.

The Guardian said it had obtained thousands of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's personal messages, and while their authenticity has not been independently validated, the newspaper said details have been cross-checked with several sources.

The messages reveal a sometimes mundane and prosaic side to the president's life, while also hinting at the dark nature of his regime which the UN says has killed "well over" 8,000 pro-democracy protesters since March 2011.

Among emails containing links to videos making light of tank attacks and listing the president's iTunes purchases, are some that directly address the violence being committed by troops.

The latest set of released messages show that a Harley Street cardiologist, Dr Fawas Akhras, who is the father of Assad's wife Asthma, offered the president advice on how to suppress the uprising.

Akhras allegedly sent Assad tips on how to repress video footage released by activists that showed evidence of the torture of children.

In an email to Assad the doctor attached an article which he said "might be of some help towards drafting the embassies response" to a Channel 4 documentary showing civilians being tortured.

He also sent a rebuttal of criticisms of the government to help "direct" the argument.

Also on Friday the Telegraph revealed how Iran has thrown Syria an economic lifeline with extensive plans for new oil, road and rail links, according to minutes of a meeting between ministers from the two countries.

The newspaper obtained what it said were documents outlining the plans.

It claimed that the Iranian government was making an "immense effort" to shore up the country's regime after 12 months of uprisings against President Assad's rule.

They also indicate that the Iraqi government has also endorsed the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile the Turkish prime minister suggested the country might help set up a buffer zone to aid the Syrian opposion, while Russia said that declarations by other countries that Assad was not the legitimate ruler of the country were "counterproductive".

"The Syrian people should determine who will lead their country and so the opinion of some of our foreign partners will hardly foster a solution," said Mikhail Bogdanov, a Russian deputy foreign minister.

Suggestions otherwise "send the opposition a false signal that there is no sense in entering dialogue" he added.

Protests were reported across Syria on Friday. Videos reportedly showing some of those in progress can be found below: