Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Killing Fields of Hama

The United Nations finally put out a statement against Syria's Bashar Assad. Lebanon disassociated itself from the statement, which isn't all that surprising given Syria's ongoing meddling in its neighbor for decades and the ongoing presence of Hizbullah in Lebanon's government.

Bashar Assad couldn't care what the United Nations says. He's going to do things his way and that means that Syrians are going to continue dying so that Assad can remain in power.

Assad continues to unleash his military against the city of Hama; blocking protesters from congregating in the main square with tanks and using his military to attack people without provocation. The army is firing artillery and tanks and gunfire at areas within the city and has tried to cut off communications between the city and the rest of the world.
Thousands of civilians were fleeing the city, a bastion of protest surrounded by a ring of steel of troops with tanks and heavy weapons.

Electricity and communications have been cut off and as many as 130 people have been killed in a four-day military assault since Assad sent troops into the city on Sunday, activists say.

Reacting to the intensifying assaults on Hama and other Syrian districts, the U.N. Security Council condemned the use of force against civilians -- its first substantive response to nearly five months of unrest in Syria.

In Hama, residents said tanks had advanced into the main Orontes Square, the site of some of the biggest protests against Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez al-Assad in 2000. Snipers spread onto rooftops and into a nearby citadel.

An activist who managed to leave the city told Reuters that 40 people were killed by heavy machinegun fire and shelling by tanks in al-Hader district on Wednesday and early on Thursday.

The activist, who gave his name as Thaer, said five more people from the Fakhri and Assa'ad families, including two children, were killed as they were trying to leave Hama by car on the al-Dhahirya highway.
The Assad regime is more than content to murder anyone who offers the slightest resistance to his regime's power and authority.

That's despite his repeated claims that he is reforming the government and that he's restraining his military forces to deal only with saboteurs or insurgents.

Fact is he's butchering people left and right and Hama is again taking the brunt. Expect Bashar to make Hama an example to the rest of the country of what happens when you stand up to the regime; he's repeating his father's own crackdown against Hama in 1982, where upwards of 10-25,000 people were murdered when Hafez razed the city with artillery fire and explosives. It was only after the city was razed that he allowed media and other Syrians access to the city - the lesson to be learned from that sorry crimes against humanity is that you don't mess with the regime.

Bashar's grasping at the same strategy, and with the same predictable results as the opposition groups and protesters have no way to defend themselves against tanks and artillery.

The NYT reports that more than 100 people have been killed in Hama in just the past 24 hours. That's a sharp escalation over the prior death tolls.

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