More than 1,200 civilians have died and at least 10,000 have been arrested since protests began against President Bashar al-Assad’s government in mid-March, according to rights groups. Repression and extrajudicial arrests continue to inrease.At the same time, the past several weeks have seen organized groups of protesters swarm and attempt to break into Israel across the Golan border. Those incidents have resulted in an unknown number of casualties, but with Syrian media outlets being state-run, it's in their interest to puff up the numbers so as to diminish the slaughter carried out by the Syrian regime against its own citizens. There's no way to independently verify the casualty claims from the incidents along the Golan border but independent human rights groups claim another 40 people were murdered by the regime across the country, and Assad's security forces continue murdering civilians without showing the slightest bit of hesitation.
Friday was one of the bloodiest days since the 10-week uprising began, with an internet blackout temporarily preventing footage of Syrian security forces opening fire on a 50,000-strong anti-government protest in Hama from leaving the country. At least 53 people died in Hama and another 10 elsewhere throughout the country that day, said the human rights organization Sawasiah.
An additional 35 people were killed since Saturday in the northern towns Jisr al-Shughour and Khan Sheikhoun, according to human rights groups, making this past weekend one of the bloodiest since the protests began.
Tanks also rolled into Hama Saturday night, where 100,000 people marched in funerals for those killed Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. On Sunday morning, at least three demonstrators were killed in a town in the northwestern province of Idlib.
Despite the ongoing violence, the government continues to insist it is implementing reforms.
On May 31, Assad granted amnesty for “all members of Muslim Brotherhood and other detainees belonging to political movements.” Several hundred political prisoners were released the next day.
The announcement — and the doublespeak and deception it represents — aggravated rather than mitigated the scale of protests after Friday prayers, several sources in Damascus said.
One such video has leaked out showing Syrian troops on a rooftop in Dara'a where some of the heaviest fighting has occurred. They're walking among dead civilians.
Israel has beefed up security even further along its border with Syria, knowing that the Syrians are attempting to foment incidents involving Israel so as to take pressure off the Assad regime. Assad has no problem sending people to their deaths to remain in power. It's what autocrats do, and those people who are attempting to cross into Israel are being put into a dangerous position because of Assad and his attempt to drag Israel into his regime's ongoing fight for survival.
Israeli diplomats will be complaining to the UN for what it's worth over Syria's manipulation of Palestinian protesters to initiate incidents along the border. The problem for the UN is that they're completely incapable of dealing with Syria, and while the situation roughly corresponds to the ongoing civil war in Libya, the opposition in Syria isn't nearly as well defined. Yet, Assad is engaging in the same kinds of ethnic cleansing/war crimes/democide that Khadafi has done.
The NYT reports that there was no way for protesters to get to the Golan border with Israel without the Syrian regime's support.
A military spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, said that Israeli forces warned the protesters not to approach the border, in Arabic with megaphones; used nonlethal riot dispersal means like tear gas, which failed to deter them; and then fired warning shots in the air.Lebanon had a similar incident two weeks ago, but they made sure to seal the border area ahead of the commemoration of the anniversary of the Six Day War. Syria took no such action, and the fact that they were busy televising the situation along the border all while continuing to block the Internet and clamping down on the protesters throughout Syria shows that the regime was fully engaged in trying to manipulate the situation along the Golan border to its own ends. Once again, Palestinians are a pawn and cannon fodder for unholy regimes whose only intention is to remain in power.
When the demonstrators reached the fence, soldiers were “left with no choice,” she said, “but to open fire at the feet of the protesters.”
Syria’s role also creates a quandary for Israel. Although the countries technically remain in a state of war, Syria has kept the border quiet for 37 years.
Protesters there could not have approached the border without government acquiescence, and analysts said the decision to allow the protest was aimed at deflecting attention from the protests sweeping Syria against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“I would note that these protests were carried live on Syrian television” an Israeli official said. “They do not carry the protests against their own regime live. They made a decision to try to exploit this for their own purposes.”
The official spoke anonymously because, he said, Israel did not want to allow the protests to stoke tensions with Syria.