Over 3,000 Syrians have been killed since March 15 when protests against the authoritarian regime of President Bashar al-Assad began. Navi Pillar, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, says that, just in the past ten days, 100 people have been killed and that the bloody crackdown seems more and more a harbinger of a “full-blown civil war.” At least 187 children are among the dead and hundreds have also been arrested and detained by security forces.
On Thursday, 36 were reported dead, 25 of them soldiers who had defected. Demonstrations in support of soldiers who have defected were called on Friday. At least 11 people were shot dead including seven when security forces opened fire on protesters in Dael, near the southern city of Deraa where the protests first started. Protests also occurred in Aleppo and the capital of Damascus, which has been relatively quiet during the months of unrest.
The regime’s attempts to control dissent has extended beyond its borders: Both the US and Britain have accused Syria of intimidating activists aboard and ordered it to cease doing so. The US has arrested a Syrian national who it says filmed and threatened Syrians attending anti-Assad rallies on US soil, and then flew to Damascus to inform Assad. Britain has warned the Syrian ambassador that embassy officials are not to threaten Syrian activists based in the UK and Amnesty International says that Assad’s regime has been monitoring activities in some 30 capital cities. In Lebanon, the Syrian ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali is denying claims that Syrian officials are behind the abduction of three activists near Beirut.
It remains extremely difficult to gain a clear idea of activities within Syria as Assad’s regime does not allow foreign journalists to report from within the country. Al Jazeera’s Nir Rosen was able to interview members of Syria’s Alawite and Sunni communities. Assad and his family are Alawites, a Muslim sect, while the majority of Syria’s population is Sunni.
Gulf Nations Call For Meeting
Both the UN and the international community have been “accused of being flat-footed in their response to the crisis, in stark contrast to the enthusiastic intervention in Libya.”
Noting that the situation in Syria has declined drastically since Arab foreign ministers met on September 13 and called for Assad to “immediately stop the bloodshed,” six gulf nations are demanding that a meeting be held on Sunday. The 22-nation Arab League has still to approve the request, which is a further recognition of the deterioration of conditions in Syria.
Last week a UN resolution put together by the US and European countries was blocked by China and Russia. The resolution threatened “measures” against Syria if the government did not stop its brutal repression of protests. Both China and Russia have, though, urged Syria to adopt promised reforms. UN spokesman Rupert Colville has emphasized that diplomatic solutions have clearly not proved sufficient to create real change in Syria. “Just hoping things will get better isn’t good enough, clearly,” he says.
The revolt continues. “Tell Bashar he is finished and we will prevail,” said an unnamed man from Homs, which has been an epicenter of protests and which is “out of the control” of the regime. Another anonymous resident of Homs said over the phone:
“We know the world is not coming to help us. We will do what we have to do. Our brothers in the security forces are increasingly waking up. And soon we will fight alongside them in large numbers.”
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Photo of children in Deraa protesting in April by syriana2011