Bashar has apparently obtained the support of Hizbullah and Iran in cracking down. There are reports that the thugs cracking skulls in the protests are speaking Farsi, which is an indication that Iran is wielding expanded power in Syria and assisting in propping up the Assad regime. Bashar's father had no such issues - he was able to use the army to crush opposition in Hama (giving rise to the Hama Rules for dealing with opposition).
That isn't to say that the Syrians aren't deploying the army to deal with the protests; they are. It would appear that Assad considers this a most serious threat and isn't beyond getting help from Iran and Hizbullah to quell the protests.
At the same time, the Assad regime is preparing to make some kind of a statement in the next 48 hours, but I doubt it would be the kind of announcement that opposition groups are hoping for. It would likely be an ultimatum for them to cease and desist all while giving lip service to any kind of political or social liberalization/changes that opposition groups are demanding.
The Syrians are also attempting to keep the lid on the reporting of protests - trying to keep events from spiraling out of control. To that end, they're again harassing journalists, stripped the press accreditation of a third reporter. All three are from Reuters.
Two journalists from the Reuters news agency are missing and two U.S. citizens have been detained during the unprecedented nationwide mass protests that have posed the greatest challenge to President Bashar Assad since he came to power 11 years ago, media reports say.For the moment, the US is not planning on any no-fly zones or other military actions with respect to Syria.
Producer Ayat Basma and cameraman Ezzat Baltaji, both Lebanese nationals based in Beirut, disappeared Saturday night as they were expected to be making their way back to Lebanon, according to Reuters.
The last contact Reuters had with the duo was about 5:30 p.m. Saturday when Baltaji sent a text message to a colleague in Beirut saying, "We will leave now."
Since then, the journalists have been unreachable on their phones.
Syrian state TV has blamed recent protests and unrest on foreigners, among others.
One group that is paying close attention to the ongoing situation in Syria are the Druze, who are frequently caught in the middle of the conflicts and are waiting to see which way the wind blows.