Death toll and anger rise as the daily routine of protests and crackdowns continues.
Protests calling for regime fall followed by security crackdown, gunfire and funerals are now the norm in most Syrian cities and suburbs, with the exception of central Damascus and Aleppo, where the endgame will be played out at one point.
But the coastal city of Banyas hosted today’s main event. Protesters report coming under heavy gunfire after coming out of Al-Rahman Mosque following Dawn prayers. They says that security forces, army troops and the Shabbiha (gangs whose membership derive from the larger Assad clan and who run large smuggling rings all over the coast) were working together. Soon after the first barrages which left three confirmed dead and a number of injured, some dissention with the ranks of the attackers seem to have taken place, but there is a conflict in eyewitness reports as to the exact nature of this development.
Some say that security forces and the Shabbiha shot a number of army troops for refusing to open fire on protesters, and there does indeed seem to be an agreement on the occurrence of 5 such incidents. But others say that the Shabbiha gangs and the security officers turned against each other, and they explain that by saying that some of the security officers are related rival Alawite clans.
If these latter reports, coupled with other reports of mysterious disappearance of army officers from certain army units, are true, then what we have unfolding here is a situation similar to the one that existed in the early 1980s when problems within the regime intermeshed with the ongoing uprising, and contributed to the escalation of violence. The difference here, of course, is the nonviolent character of the protests. The only safeguard protesters have against violence is not to practice it themselves. Fortunately they realize it.
This will continue to be a story of rocks and chants against batons and bullets for the foreseeable future.
Areas that saw major protests today: Deraa City, Banyas, Lattakia, Homs (Hawleh), Qadsiyyeh, Mouaddamiyyeh.
The story of Deraa continues to be one of funerals, protests, dodging bullets and shooting videos of security officers committing atrocities.