Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Bashar Get Out!"

New Massacres in Deraa. Deaths and Turmoil in Lattakia. Protests pockmark the face of Damascus.

As our quick update showed, the day did not exactly begin quietly with major protests in Deraa and environs featuring over 100,000 participants, and with Lattakia, Homs and Mouddamiyyah featuring bloody clashes. Still, and the day unfolded, the picture grew clearer. Indeed, the BBC Arabic service reported that at one point there were more than 300,000 protesters demonstrating in different parts of Syria. More importantly perhaps is the fact that the protesters are now openly demanding end of Assad rule, chanting “Assad Go Out” and “The People Want To Topple The Regime,” defacing Assad’s posters wherever they found, and destroying Hafiz Al-Assad’s statue in Deraa.

Of particular significance, however, are the situation in Lattakia and the symbolic significance of Hama’s major demonstrations.

Lattakia is now the Deraa of the North in that the entire city rebelled and is currently under siege. Unlike Deraa, however, Lattakia is ethnically mixed, with Sunnis, Alawites and Christians living together. This gives an opportunity to the regime to play the sectarian card, and there are indeed reports that it did, by enlisting groups of Alawites from nearby villages to join in the crackdown against protesters, and depicting the protests as being anti-Alawi in character despite the absence of any sectarian slogans from the protesters’ chants. Four have been reported dead, the situation could escalate further over the weekend.

Now, we’ll let videos do the talking:

Deraa: Statue of Hafiz Al-Assad Destroyed
Bashar’s Poster in Deraa gets torn as protesters shout Freedom Freedom
Hafiz  Al-Assad’s Poster in Homs gets torn

Hama: the city that has more reason to fear than any other, on account of the Hama Massacres of 1982, defied fear and gangs wielding knives. Chant: “We sacrifice our blood and soul for you, Deraa”
Lattakia: Sheikh Dhaher Neighborhood, gunfire can clearly heard, 4 protesters reported dead, but number expected to climb
Deraa – Sanamayn: major protests with 50,000 estimated participants, met with force, 20 reported dead

Deraa - Sanamayn: Heavy Gunfire heard
 Deraa Mayor: describes bloodshed, assails Assad in interview with Al-Hiwar


Homs: “The People Want To Topple The Regime,” “Out, Out, Bashar Get out”

Homs: Fire near the officers club

Douma – Damascus: protesters were slightly ambitious: they established a Liberty Square and wanted to stay there until regime-fall. They were dispersed after several hours by security forces using tear gas and live rounds, several were injured, but protesters to have regrouped after security forces left.
Deir Ezzor: small protest in support of Deraa. “No more Fear”
Dariyyah: protest in support of Deraa. “Syrian People Will Not Be Humiliated.”
Idlib: Small but vociferous and straightforward.  “Arabs and Kurds United Against The President Of The Country.”
Zabadani: “Syrian People Will Not Be Humiliated”
Zabadani: “We’re Coming Deraa”
Kisweh: “Syria Wants Freedom. Deraa Wants Freedom. We Want Freedom”
Mazzeh – Damascus: “They Took Everything And Left Us Nothing.”
Mouaddamiyyah – Damascus: “Where Are You Syrians,” “We Sacrifice Our Soul and Blood For You, Deraa” and “Silmiyyeh, Silmiyyeh, Peacefully, Peacefully, We Want Freedom.” One protester explains to crowd: “this means we don’t have weapons.” Three were shot dead later by security.
Berlin: In a protest near the Syrian Embassy, an Alawite women explains that Alawites have been hurt by Assad and most are against him.