U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford is set to return to Syria on Tuesday, even as the Associated Press reports an "insane escalation" in violence around the city of Homs. The new round of violence, in which 34 bodies were reportedly dumped in the streets of Homs, appears to be sectarian in nature, pitting Syria's majority Sunnis against "President Bashar Assad's minority Alawite sect." Homs-based activist Mohammed Saleh told the AP, "It was an insane escalation ... There were kidnappings and killings in a mad way. People are afraid to go out of their homes."
The U.S. State Department pulled Ford from Syria in late October as the government there cracked down on protesters that he had supported, but it said he would return on Tuesday despite the shocking escalation in violence that saw 50 people killed in 24 hours. He had been scheduled to return on Nov. 24, Reuters reported, "but the State Department postponed his return, citing the continued crackdown." The decision to send Ford back now follows the news Monday that Syria had agreed to allow in Arab League observers, but the crackdown on the opposition remains underway, the AP reported.