As Banyas remains defiant and under siege, its women and children join the protests movement, and Aleppo awakens.
Banyas continues to be the main theater of developments at this stage. The hundreds of arrests that took place since Friday April 8 in Banyas have left many women and children to fend for themselves, especially in the village of Al-Bayda. But rather than quell the protest movement, the arrests and the bloody crackdown that took place (and the picture below shows just how bloody it was) inspired the long-dormant Aleppo to stir back to life, and drove Banyasi women and children to take to the streets to demand the return of their family members, effectively joining the protest movements, in a development that is likely to inspire women (and young teen) in other communities as well. The protests are widening.
Indeed, the women and children of Al-Baydah village, accompanied by the few older teens and men remaining, spent the entire day blocking the main highway and preventing movement of army tanks. At one point young teen age boys lay in the middle of the highway hindering the movement of army tanks. Although some arrests were reported, the new pedigree of protesters proved to be a resilient lot, and only returned home at sunset. Their choice of tactics is also pretty indicative of the nonviolent character of the protest movement. On the down side, army and security forces are preventing shipment of food, including bread to the city, and supplies are running low.
In Aleppo, the students at the College of Literature organized a small protest of their own, the first since the beginning of Syria’s Revolution on March 15. In a sign that this is only the beginning of a trend, another protest reportedly took place almost simultaneously in the suburbs of Sakhour and Al-Shaar. Both protests were quickly dispersed by pro-Assad security officers chanting pro-Assad slogans.
Elsewhere in the country, the Damascene suburb of Jeramana witnessed another protest by women in the form of a brief candlelight vigil quickly dispersed by security officers. Meanwhile, Damascus School of Law witnessed another campus-based protest, as students seem bent on taking the struggle to the capital despite the threat of summary expulsions. The protest was quickly brought under the control of security officers chanting pro-Assad slogans.
In Zama Village near Jableh, the son of a retired Alawite general, Wafeeq Dalilah, was killed by a gunman while driving his car in a move taken to be a sign of a worsening internal strife between Assad opponents and loyalists within the Alawite community. The general was no loyalist. Another Jableh subrn, Al-Qassam, witnessed major protests in support of Banyas.
Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Deraa Governorate continue to hold large funerals to bury their dead, as the entire Governorate continues to be under siege and running low of certain food supplies.
There were also protests in Deir Ezzor Governorate in the town of Markadeh, as well as in Kisweh near Damascus, and parts of Homs.
Another interesting development that took place overnight and that could be interpreted as a sign of growing dissention within ranks, is the leaking of a top secret document that details the Assad regime strategy for dealing with crackdowns. The document was adequately summarized in this article by the Time, but a full translation will be provided tomorrow.
Another leaked document shows that the Governor of Idlib and in an attempt to contain the Friday-centered protest drive as well as any protest activity off-hours has in effect suspended weekends by asking employees to work through them until further notice. The document also calls for keeping a 24 hour work cycle and calls for organizing shifts. No word yet as to employees response to this.