Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Syria Continues Brutal Military Crackdown Against Protesters

Syria continues its brutal crackdown against towns and communities where protests against Bashar al Assad's regime have been loudest. Syrian tanks continue pounding towns and military units are going after protesters throughout the country.
Troops went into Tel Kelakh Saturday, a day after a demonstration there demanded "the overthrow of the regime," the slogan of revolutions that toppled Arab leaders in Egypt and Tunisia and challenged others across the Middle East.

Assad had been partly rehabilitated in the West over the last three years but the United States and European Union condemned his use of force to quell unrest and warned they plan further steps after imposing sanctions on top Syrian officials.

The Syrian leader told a delegation from the Damascus district of Midan that security forces made mistakes handling the protests, Wednesday's edition of al Watan newspaper said.

One delegate said Assad told them 4,000 police would receive training "to prevent these excesses" being repeated, it said.

Human rights groups say Assad's crackdown has killed at least 700 civilians. Authorities blame most of the violence on armed groups backed by Islamists and outside powers, saying they have also killed more than 120 soldiers and police.

"We're still without water, electricity or communications," a resident of Tel Kelakh said, speaking by satellite phone.

He said the army was storming houses and making arrests, but withdrawing from neighborhoods after the raids. In a sign that the army was coming under fire in the town, he said some families "are resisting, preferring death to humiliation."
Assad's thugs continue claiming that they are dealing with an ongoing threat from exterior forces, rather than admitting that homegrown dissatisfaction over Assad's brutal regime and failed economic policies.

Assad's security forces carried out coordinated attacks against opposition strongholds once again all while opposition groups claim that there are mass graves where Syrian forces killed protesters but such claims can't be independently verified because Assad refuses to grant journalists access to confirm the situation on the ground.

It is curious that Assad would admit that security forces made mistakes, but I'm not sure he means what people think he means.
Syria's president said the country's security forces have made mistakes during the uprising against his regime, blaming poorly trained police officers at least in part for a crackdown that has killed more than 850 people over the past two months.

President Bashar Assad's comments, carried Wednesday in the private Al-Watan newspaper, came even as a human rights activist said Wednesday that Syrian troops have used heavy machine guns to attack a neighborhood in the central city of Homs.
People are taking that to mean that security forces weren't sufficiently trained and that deadly force wasn't called for in some situations, but I think he means that the crackdown wasn't sufficiently deadly and violent at the outset to scare protesters off at the outset. The failure to brutally overwhelm the protesters at the outset gave protesters and opposition groups the ability to gain ground and expand their efforts. In effect, he's blaming the military for not sufficiently holding to the Hama rules and effectively crushing the nascent rebellion before it could gain ground.

For its part, Russia doesn't want to see force used to dislodge Assad or to prevent further civilian bloodshed in Syria along the lines of the Libyan intervention.

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