Friday, August 05, 2011

Syrian Protesters Continue To Be Slaughtered By Assad's Regime

Bashar Assad's crackdown continues without end, and the butcher's bill is growing by the day. More protesters have been murdered by the regime, but the protesters continue standing their ground despite coming under attack by the Syrian military.
Meanwhile, Syrian state TV broadcast new images from inside Hama, a city that has become a focal point of the uprising against Assad's regime.

The report showed streets strewn with rubble and wrecked buildings, according to BBC News, which published excerpts.

The Syrian broadcaster claimed that troops had put down an armed rebellion in the city, the BBC reported.

The Syrian TV report showed images of streets blocked by makeshift barricades set up by protesters. A tank was seen removing a large cement barrier as well as a bus that had its windshield shattered.

The report also showed a yellow taxi with a dead man in the driver's seat and bloodstains on the door. A picture carried by state-run news agency SANA showed empty streets with debris and damaged cars.

SANA said the Syrian army was restoring "security and stability" to Hama after it was "taken over by terrorists."

'With you until death'
Hama has been under military siege for six days as Assad tries to crush a growing uprising that has so far claimed the lives of at least 1,700 civilians since March.

Residents of Hama said they feared casualty figures there since military assault began on Sunday were higher than the 135 estimated killed.
It goes without saying that SANA would tout the Assad line and that facts are hard to come by when it comes to what SANA is reporting.

Assad is running SANA stories as propaganda to control the narrative coming out of places like Hama. He wants to portray peaceful protesters as saboteurs and insurgents, rather than civilians calling for freedom and demonstrating against the regime's ongoing brutality.

Assad has tried to combat the image of a slaughter by releasing videos claiming to show Syrians taking up arms against the military and firing on crowds. That's at odds with Syrian activists' reporting that Assad's goons have gone undercover and fired on crowds of protesters. Other groups have claimed that they've remained peaceful and/or that if Syrians had taken up arms against the military, the military casualties would have gone much higher than whatever purported losses have been incurred.

What's lost on Assad's attempts at propaganda is that while many of the protests started out complaining about the economic and political situation, they've morphed into protests about the brutal crackdown itself (the slaughter of people in Hama, at funeral protests, etc.) so that the regime's actions in response to protests are as much a focus as the economic and political conditions.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reports that more than 2,000 Syrians have been killed in Assad's crackdown against protesters and there's no sign of this letting up.

The NYT reports that Syria is now broadcasting images of Hama after it has been pacified, and it shows a city devastated by artillery and gunfire.
Syria’s state media broadcast stark images of the destruction in the besieged city of Hama for the first time on Friday, showing burnt buildings, makeshift barricades and deserted streets strewn with rubble, in footage that appeared to designed to show that government forces had put down a rebellion in the city.

A photo made available by Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), made from television, shows the rubble of alleged fighting between security forces and armed groups at a street in the city of Hama, Syria, on Friday.

The images were unmistakably Hama, Syria’s fourth-largest city and a focal point of the five-month-old uprising that has left President Bashar al-Assad’s leadership isolated and weakened. They suggested the military had retaken control of a city that, for two months, had wrested itself from under government and enjoyed a measure of freedom unprecedented in four decades of authoritarian rule by the Assad family.

The reports by Syrian television and Sana, the official news agency, portrayed the army as Hama’s savior. The news appeared aimed at reinforcing the leadership’s message to internal opponents that they are regarded as armed insurrectionist gangs inspired by hostile foreign powers and will be dealt with accordingly. But the television footage of the wreckage in Hama also implicitly acknowledged that the violence there had been far more serious than Mr. Assad’s regime has until now been willing to publicly admit.
The regime's propaganda is also fast becoming out of touch with reality.

Residents who managed to make contact with outsiders claimed that more than 200 tanks and armored vehicles were in the city and blocking access to mosques. The military was using a divide and conquer strategy to prevent protesters from congregating into larger groups.

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