In what has emerged as one of the most brutal waves of repression since the Arab Spring began, the Syrian military shelled Homs, the country’s third-largest city, from tanks on Wednesday, forcing hundreds to flee and detaining hundreds more.It isn't so much as a calm, as the calm before the next storm tomorrow as Assad's security thugs prepare for the oncoming onslaught against the opposition protesters. They're gearing up for still more protests and demonstrations tomorrow.
The military said on Thursday that it had ended what it called military operations in Homs, and residents reported that 10 tanks had withdrawn from the hardest-hit neighborhood, Bab Amr. After a day of shelling and gunfire, and sporadic shots heard before dawn, the area was relatively quiet, a resident there, Abu Haydar, said by telephone.
“Most of the people have left Bab Amr,” he said. “It’s too dangerous.”
In Baniyas, a city on the coast that was besieged this week, a tense calm persisted. A resident, Abu Obada, said by phone that security forces had urged residents to reopen their shops, but that many were reluctant. Schools and government offices remained closed, he said. In a nearby town, Bayda, residents were asked to sign pledges promising not to take part in protests, which have gathered across the country on successive Fridays.
“Some of them signed,” he said. “Others were too scared to go and sign.”
So far, the military has entered in force three large towns — Homs, Baniyas and Dara’a — with other assaults reported on towns near Dara’a and in the countryside around Baniyas.
Meanwhile, a Canadian journalist who went missing in Syria may have been sent to Iran. Journalists have been repeatedly targeted by security forces all throughout those countries affected by the popular uprisings - lest the facts and circumstances of the crackdowns become public knowledge. In this case, the Syrians claim that the journalist attempted to enter using an Iranian passport, but the Iranians claim no knowledge of the journalist's whereabouts.
In a statement, the Syrian embassy in Washington said Ms. Parvaz “attempted to illegally enter” the country using an expired Iranian passport and on false claims that she was a tourist.All the while, protests continue in major Syrian cities, including Aleppo and Hama. Videos from Aleppo show that the Syrian security forces, dressed in plainsclothes, arrested and dragged away protesters to disperse the crowds.
Syria said it extradited her on May 1 “in accordance with international law to the passport-issuing country.” The Iranian consul, it added, escorted her to Caspian Airlines Flight 7905 bound for Tehran.
Al-Jazeera reported that Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the network on May 2 that he had no knowledge of the reporter’s whereabouts and urged Syria to look into the case.
The news of her deportation, made public on Wednesday, has left Ms. Parvaz’s family confused, her fiancé, Todd Barker, said.
All while the world continues to intervene on behalf of the Libyan people and the rebel groups that have joined together to oppose Mumar Khadafi, thus far there has been no inclination on the part of the UN or Arab League or individual countries to act on behalf of the Syrian people to thwart Assad's military operations against the protesters. Thus far, only harshly worded statements can be mustered against Assad, and that's not saying much. China has come out against military action against Assad, even as the Syrian regime's body count from the latest crackdown is likely to exceed that of Khadafi's.