Most dramatic developments over the last couple of days continue to happen in Deraa. for at a time when other Syrian cities continue to witness small protests of 50-100 each, only Deraa, for now, has declared open revolt against the regime. Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces, backed by army units, tear gas and live ammunitions were used, leading to new casualties. One was confirmed dead so far, bringing total to 6 since March 15. Dozens are injured. Al-Omari Mosque has been converted into a virtual mobile hospital as the video below shows:
(Deraa March 20, Al-Omari Mosque)
Update: Many buildings were set on fire, including the governor house and office, the political security headquarters, and the offices of Syria’s communications companies owned by Assad’s cousin, a particular object of hatred and loathing for Syrians. The statue of Hafiz Al-Assad was demolished, all posters of Assads torn. Down With Assad was reportedly sprayed on walls of many of schools.
Meanwhile, in the Damascene suburbs of Madaya and Zabadani, small demonstration took place wehre protesters openly adopted the slogan “The People Want to Bring Down The Regime.” Protesters were dispersed within hours and there were many arrests.
Individual incidents such these are reported all over the country:
(This video from Old Damascus shows show swiftly security officers can move)
Another interesting development, though as the video shows, far from threatening, is the small protest that took place in Quneitra, right on Syria’s border with Israel.
If protesters are willing to risk moving in such highly secured area, any notion that the current situation can be contained easily by the Syrian regime should be dismissed. Even should other cities fail to join the protest wave for now, it seems only a matter of time before they do so. In fact, considering that the Kurds might take advantage of their national holiday tomorrow to throw their lot with their countrymen in Deraa and other Syrian cities, we may not have long to wait.
Meanwhile, and in a rare gesture of appeasement, authorities released earlier today the 15 school children whose arrest for writing anti-regime graffiti on walls of official buildings sparked the Deraa protest seems to have come too little too late.
As for the reaction of the Syrian diaspora throughout the world, March 19 witnessed several demonstrations by Syrians around the world, the largest of which took place near the White House and was supported by members of the Libyan community, who wanted to protest Assad’s military and diplomatic support of Gaddafi, as well as members of the of other Arab communities in the U.S., most notably Yemenis and Egyptians.