Thursday, February 16, 2012

Northern Syria in Open Revolt Against Assad's Regime

Since the beginning of the year, the situation in Syria has gone from bad to worse. The death count has accelerated as defections from Assad's security forces have meant that opposition groups are now brimming with former soldiers and are fighting back against Assad's loyalists with sufficient firepower to inflict significant casualties.

Northern Syria is in open revolt against Assad's regime. That's one of the first signs that Assad's losing control over the country and if the opposition forces can consolidate and hold on to the territorial gains, they could gain international recognition in a fashion similar to that when the Libyans deposed Mumar Khadafi. Assad's forces are increasingly stretched thin, which means that areas in the far north of the country are operating semi-autonomously:
Government troops were stretched thin in their effort to control all fronts in the volatile country, while violence raged in the grass-roots anti-government uprising. The revolt has now entered its 12th month and the U.N. General Assembly prepared to take up a symbolic resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown.

Syrian forces shelled the flashpoint city of Homs for a 13th straight day, targeting the opposition stronghold neighborhoods of Baba Amr, Inshaat and Khalidiya, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group.

About 50 people were injured Thursday in the heavy sustained bombardment that commenced around 5 a.m., CNN correspondent Arwa Damon reported from Homs.

In Idlib province in the northwest, people appear to be preparing for the possibility of a military offensive.

"What is astounding here is that the countryside in northern Syria, much of it is in open revolt. This is a rebellion of farmers, of carpenters and of high school teachers," said CNN correspondent Ivan Watson, reporting from the region.
"It does appear that villages and towns in northern Syria have been, basically, out of government control for several months now -- except when government forces have tried to conduct deadly incursions into these towns that are temporary at best."

In southwestern Syria, al-Assad's forces reportedly stormed the village of Sahm al-Golan searching for military defectors who have joined the rebel army or local militias, according to a member of the opposition in the town who asked to be identified only as Abu Issam out of fear of government reprisal. Syrian forces shelled the town and used tanks when it began its assault Wednesday, forcing many residents to flee toward the Jordanian border, Abu Issam said early Thursday.
Syrian forces are again attacking the city of Daraa, which is where the protests first took hold.

China, which continues to thwart action at the United Nations Security Council, has sent an envoy to Damascus, but unless the Chinese government stops blocking action at the United Nations, the diplomatic efforts to force Assad to stop murdering his countrymen will founder. China, along with Russia, oppose military action to stop Assad and believe that the draft resolutions circulating at the Security Council would open the door to military action along the lines of the NATO mission over Libya.

The situation is so bad that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is warning that Assad's regime may be engaging in crimes against humanity. Things have to be pretty dire for the Secretary General to make that kind of statement.

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